Heels to Heal 5k raised over $7,000 for Oasis of Hope clinic

Megan Braxmaier

This past Saturday, Grand Valley State University’s Physician Assistant RPC Student Society hosted the second annual Heels to Heal: Oasis of Hope 5k run/ walk where they raised $7,823 for Oasis of Hope.

Oasis of Hope is a faith based, non-profit, free clinic on Leonard Street that provides medical care to the uninsured. They provide urgent care services, chronic disease monitoring, assistance with medication, spiritual care counseling and education opportunities.

Oasis was founded by Dan and Barb Grinwis, who opened the clinic in April of 2007 to provide a service to those in the Grand Rapids area who need medical assistance. Dan is the vice president of the board and Barb is the director of Oasis. They have encountered 11,000 patients in the five years that Oasis has been active and the numbers are still growing. Oasis is an entirely volunteer-based clinic including the physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, doctors and other support staff.

The RPC Student Society has held a fundraiser every year for Oasis as well as volunteering themselves, but this year is the second year for a 5k, and even the Grinwises agree that it is a great way to earn money for the cause.

“Oasis is about health and wholeness,” said Barb, who was a physician’s assistant herself. “We treat the uninsured who have no options for healthcare so, in light of that, a 5k is a good fundraiser. We raised $5000 last year.”

“Every one of those dollars goes towards providing someone, who is disadvantaged, to free healthcare,” Dan said.

Jillian Veeneman, president of the Physician’s Assistant class of 2013 and director of the 5k, said that people should get involved because it is a great way that they can benefit themselves as well as give back to the community.

“Oasis of Hope is a logical choice for me just because they bless us so much by opening their doors and giving us an opportunity,” she said. “It’s a chance to do something that’s fun and good for you but in addition to bettering yourself, you’re bettering others. There’s no better feeling than that.”

Veeneman is among many physician’s assistant students who take the time to volunteer at Oasis. For her, it isn’t the glory of the job, but the opportunity to help people, that makes the experience worthwhile.

“Being in P.A. school means that I need to prepare myself, not only for medicine, but for bettering the community,” Veeneman said. “I really actively look for ways and as president I want to encourage my class to look for ways that they can get out and do that.”

People of all ages came out to participate in the 5k and some even brought their pets to run with them. Everybody ran for a cause, whether it was solely to support Oasis, for their own health or in respect to a family member or friend.

Bridgette Townshend, who has been involved in Oasis through the P.A. program, says she likes the 5k because it is not only an excuse to be active, but it supports the cause.

Bozana Vidovic has run previous 5ks in the past for her own enjoyment as well as supporting a good cause. “I had a tumor for 40 years. I love to run, when I run I feel like my life is back,” Vidovic said.

Stan and Luanne Kiste ran the 5k together last year.
“It’s something that we enjoy doing together and we are always looking to support a good cause,” Stan Kiste said.

The City View Running Club came out to support the cause not only because Oasis provided their physicals for the year, but for another cause that hit closer to home. The club trained all summer for the 5k to run on behalf of one of their members, Dillon, who passed away earlier this year. The club wore bright orange shirts in his honor.

The 5k, whose course was relatively flat, began and ended at the clock tower on Allendale’s campus.

Members of the RPC Student Society who helped with the event proudly gathered with smiles, glad with the turnout and smoothness of the event and Veeneman beamed as she presented the raised money to the Grinwises and Oasis of Hope.

“We live in a very generous community.” Dan said.

For more information on Oasis of Hope, you can visit www.ohcgr.org. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering at Oasis can email [email protected] or call 616-451-8868.

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