SpendMend Dedicates Bee Brave 5k Fundraiser to Team Member

Written by: Hannah Geelhoed, Community Involvement Coordinator

When I first joined the SpendMend team just over 5 years ago I was given the directive from the executive board to “get SpendMend more involved in the community”. This seemed like a broad venture to take on and I had no clue where to start, so I asked members of my team, “What charities or causes mean the most to you and why?” I gathered their responses and signed us up for Blood Drives, raised money for Kid’s Food Basket, and Toys 4 Tots, but I wanted the team to have one big event each year to go all out for. I searched and searched for a charity where we would be able to see the impact of our efforts and found Bee Brave, a volunteer-run group that is dedicated to finding a cure for Breast Cancer – and better yet, is based in Grand Rapids, MI, headquarters of SpendMend.

Since our first appearance in 2017, SpendMend has been able to fundraise over $35,000 for Breast Cancer Research in Grand Rapids, MI for the Van Andel Institute (VAI). One of the reasons we choose to participate partner with Bee Brave is because 100% of the proceeds go directly to the VAI. Members of our team have been lucky enough to take tours of the VAI labs, see the equipment, and meet the scientists that our donations have been able to fund. This year alone the team raised over $13,000!

When I first chose to support Bee Brave, I was participating on behalf of a family member who battled breast cancer – like many other members of our team were. This year, we collectively dedicated our walk to one of our own, Colleen Kretowicz, an Audit Supervisor at SpendMend. She was brave and gracious enough to let us share her story here:

“I almost opted not to tell and have only a lumpectomy under the guise of a week-long vacation. It was a valid option with the type of cancer I have, but the bilateral mastectomy was the better and most reassuring treatment with only a 3% chance of recurrence!

I was afraid that I would have my clients reassigned or given to someone else to share with me or be moved to another position in the company. As a single woman living alone, loss of income is a very real fear. Its right up there with cancer scary.

My daughter finally convinced me that I needed to do what was best for me no matter what.

When I set up the call to discuss my diagnosis and treatment with [my managers] Travis, Josh and Rob, I was really scared of the outcome but resigned to accept it, whatever was decided and focus on what I had to deal with. They could not have been more supportive and reassuring. Knowing that my employer and my co-workers had my back brought that stress down and let me focus on healing; physically and mentally.

I’m in tears now remembering all the love and caring I felt from SpendMend. We put together a plan to take care of my clients while I was out and seriously – my team and management stepped up and jumped in to make things happen and let me rest. Especially in such a male-dominated industry to have a company be so supportive both publicly and privately is amazing!! I will always be so grateful for that.”

We are so thankful for Colleen’s fighter mentality are proud to have her as a member of the SpendMend team.

While the 5K event happened last weekend, all of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the donation page is still active throughout the month and accepting donations. If you are interested, please use this link: https://runsignup.com/spendmend. Any contribution you or your friend group can make will help in significant ways.

SpendMend thanks everyone who donated and participated in our fundraising efforts. Our team’s donations are creating innovative and life-changing discoveries in the field of Breast Cancer Research.

SpendMend Supports Bee Brave Fundraiser To Help Raise Funds For Breast Cancer Research!

Written By Hannah Geelhoed, Community Involvement Director

Over the past several years we have been fortunate at SpendMend.  Our business has grown and we have added many new and talented team members that share our work ethic and our values.  Success is not something that we take for granted and we believe in fostering a culture of community, humility, and gratitude.  Wherever possible we encourage our team to “give back” to several charities that we support including Bee Brave, Purple Community, Kid’s Food Basket, Toys 4 Tots, American Red Cross Blood Drives, Boys and Girls Club, and others.

One of the many charitable fundraisers that we support is the Bee Brave 5K Race in Grand Rapids MI.  Bee Brave stands out to us because one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Van Andel Institute, a Grand Rapids based research facility fighting Breast Cancer and Neurodegenerative diseases.

In just the last three years our generous staff and management team have donated nearly $20,000 to the change-making organization. I have personally been able to take tours of the Van Andel facility and have gotten to see the machines and meet the staff that Bee Brave’s donations have been able to purchase and hire.

As everyone knows, 2020 has seen many cancelled and postponed events, but fortunately we will be able to continue our tradition next weekend and once again support Bee Brave as a platinum level sponsor for their October 10th fundraiser.  Based on the guidance provided by our state and through strict enforcement by the leaders at Bee Brave, I am certain we will be able to do our part to help support this worthy cause, all while keeping everyone safe.  The Bee Brave community is faithful, strong, and loyal.

Bee Brave founder Pat Ringnalda offered the following sentiments to help outline the importance of the event, “The Bee Brave charity organization consists of like-minded people who have a passion for a community cause. 100% of what we raise, including race registrations, go directly to the Van Andel Institute for local breast cancer research! SpendMend has been a HUGE contributor to our success, not only as a Platinum level sponsor, but also by creating energy to support our team fundraising efforts!

Please come join us on Saturday, October 10-either virtually or in person!  Click HERE to register and/or donate today using the SpendMend team’s fundraising page.  Any contribution you or your friends/family can make will help in significant and meaningful ways.