Battle of the Gains hosts fourth annual Gains’ Summer Festival

Allison Rafferty, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, July 13, Battle of the Gains hosted its fourth annual Gains’ Summer Festival in downtown Grand Rapids. Taking place at the Calder Plaza, those involved were anticipating the highest number of participants yet.

Founded four years ago by William Ellermets, Battle of the Gains is a healthy living movement focused on helping people overcome obstacles in their lives and turn their losses into gains.

Ellermets said that the idea for Battle of the Gains came to him upon noticing the struggles of college students around him. Whether it be a failed class or a lost friend, he wanted to help them cope with whatever they were going through.

“I decided to host an event to bring people together and help them find ways to make gains in their lives and minimize their losses,” Ellermets said. “I knew if my plans revolved around physical, mental and spiritual health, that those would be key elements in helping people overcome obstacles.”

Aside from its new location at Calder Plaza, participants noticed a few other changes to the festival. 

“We’ll have local people as Battle Talkers, similar to Ted Talks or Failure Lab, who take the stage to inspire others by telling how they overcame their struggles and battles in life,” Ellermets said. 

This year, the festival also included The Wettest Event of the Summer, an attempt to break the world record for number of people participating in a water balloon fight. The University of Kentucky currently holds the record with 8,957 participants.

Battle of the Gains decided to host the water balloon fight as the main event because Ellermets said they “wanted an awesome attraction that would bring out a lot of families and kids.”

By having participants write their biggest life “battles” on the balloons before tossing them, Battle of the Gains also ties in their mission to the event. 

The festival had its usual entertainment, such as live music and sports tournaments. Choff from 104.5 SNX, the most listened to radio station in West Michigan, was the live DJ for the event. 

To help with Battle of the Gains’ goal of helping people overcome depression and anxiety, Ellermets and a planning committee ensure that plenty of local organizations that help provide solutions to people’s problems are involved with each event Battle of the Gains puts on. 

Organizations such as the “Be Nice” Mental Health Foundation, Transplant Games of America, Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community, churches and other social organizations have been involved in events put on by Battle of the Gains, including the Gains’ Summer Festival.

Each year, Battle of the Gains has a nonprofit partner for the Gains’ Summer Festival. This year they chose Gift of Life Michigan, an organ and tissue donation program located in Ann Arbor. 

“We’re really excited to be able to increase the donor list in West Michigan for people who need transplants,” Ellermers said.