Winterfest Celebration benefits VAI’s Parkinson’s research program


Photo courtesy VAI

Hundreds of people will join Van Andel Institute (VAI) in the battle against Parkinson’s disease at the 12th annual Winterfest Celebration on Thursday, Feb. 23, while enjoying a night of great entertainment and excellent food.


Winterfest will be held at the Goei Center and emceed by 97 WLAV-FM on-air personalities Tony Gates and Michelle McKormick, who will lead a paddle raise during the event. Eleven Grand Rapids restaurants will offer cuisine from their menus as part of the evening’s strolling dinner. Attendees also may participate in live and silent auctions. All proceeds from the Winterfest Celebration go directly to fund VAI’s Parkinson’s and neurodegenerative disease research programs.


“Our commitment to research and breakthroughs to treat Parkinson’s disease is relentless,” said David Van Andel, VAI chairman and CEO. “Winterfest is an opportunity to celebrate our success, share information with the community and support future research to help those suffering from this disease.”


Photo courtesy VAI

More than one million people in the U.S., and 7 to 10 million people globally have Parkinson’s. There is no cure and current treatments only mitigate symptoms, ultimately becoming less effective over time. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) scientists and its international collaborators are deeply committed to changing this reality by finding new ways to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression, translating basic research discoveries into novel therapies to give people more years with a higher quality of life.


“We are venturing into novel and innovative areas regarding the mechanism underlying Parkinson’s disease. There is interesting research concerning how the cells’ energy metabolism fails and what the role of inflammation is in the disease process,” said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science. “In the coming year, I hope to see new developments that lead to potential new treatments for patients.”


Photo courtesy VAI

Individual tickets for Winterfest Celebration are $150. For more information on Winterfest Celebration including how to purchase tickets for the event, please visit



VAI is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 360 scientists, educators and staff. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research division, is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in onsite laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe.