Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - NANAS RUN
NANA’S RUN Livernois 1
ALLENDALE, Mich. – Megan Ochmanekhasneverbeenarunnerbutshe can sure plana race.
The young Grand ValleyState Universityalumni spoketoa writingclassonMonday abouther workin
planningNana’srun,a 5k indowntownGrandRapids that helpsfundALSresearch.Inher talkshe
expandedonthe aspectsof planninganeventof thissize andhow to successfullyuse communicationto
reach the goalsof the event.
Char VanderLaan,more fondlyknownasNanato hergranddaughtersCassandraandSydney
DeVos,became noticeablyillroughlyone yearbeforeherAmyotrophicLateral Sclerosis(ALS) diagnosis.
Followingthe identificationof herillnessinthe fall of 2013, Nana,like manyotherALS
patients, progressivelybegantolose weight,developpaininhermuscles,andlose the abilitytowalk
withoutthe use of a cane or walker.Withinafew months,the disease hadaffectedhermusclesso
drasticallythatswallowingbecame almostimpossible, forcinghertoeatonlyliquidsthroughafeeding
tube and causingextreme lossof weightandenergy.Itwasat thispointthat she beganto require 24-
hour nursingcare, butwiththe helpof friendsandfamily,she triedherbesttokeepherspiritsup.
Despite the round-the-clockcare,NanaVanderLaansuccumbedtoherillness onMarch7, 2014.
WhenOchmanekwasapproachedbyCassandra andSyndeyDevosaboutthe ideaforNana’s
run, she wasmore than excitedtouse herskillsincommunicationandeventplanningtohelpstartthis
“The maingoal was to raise awarenessof whatALSisto the publicandhow the Mercy Healthis helping
those affected,”saidOchmanek.BypartneringwithMercyHealthandthe ALS associationshe wasable
to spreadthe word toother ALSsufferersaboutthe runand getthemto participate ina cause that was
NANA’S RUN Livernois 2
personal tothem.She alsousedsocial media,pressreleasesandotherpublic relations aspecttospread
the word aboutNana’srun to the residentsof GrandRapids.
The race was run on May 31, 2014, at a time that allowedanyone, includingcurrentALS
patients,tojoinin.Itconsisted of a 5k throughthe streetsof downtownGrandRapidsanda one mile
loopfor ALSparticipants. “The goal was to getaround500 people torunand raise $50,000 dollarsfor
researchbutinsteadwe were able toget1,200 walkersandraise over $290,000 dollarsforresearch,”
saidOchmanek. “The turnoutwas somethingIneverexpected butawonderful surprise.” Withthe
successof Nana’srun the proceedswenttothe ALSassociationandthe Mercy Healthneurosciences
division. Withthe fundsraisedbythe race,Mercy Healthwas able togive iPadswithspecial speech
technologythathelpsingivingthose whosufferfromALSa voice.
“With the successof last year’sNana’srunI jumpedatthe opportunityto helpagain,”said
Ochmanek. “It’sa greatcause and I hope this race goeson for yearsto come.” Nana’srun is plannedto
run againon May 30, 2015 withregistrationnow beingopen.The runisonce againpartneredwiththe
ALS associationandMercy HealthwithproceedsgoingtobothorganizationstofunALSresearchand
To findoutmore about Nanasrun, donate,orto signup for the run: