Grandfather's Memory Motivates Eliza Beird For Purple Community Soccer Games

Eliza Beird posing for a portrait in a white soccer jersey Alan Glendening family photo by Alan Babbitt

Eliza Beird will think of her grandfather, Alan Glendening, when she takes the field for the Hope College women's soccer team at the Purple Community games Saturday at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.

The senior from Holland, Michigan (Black River HS), pictured right, fondly recalls her biggest fan, who passed away last month after a brief bout with Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

"It's definitely hard," Beird said of the quick timeline from Mr. Glendening's initial diagnosis to his September 1 funeral. "I was not expecting to be playing in memory of my grandpa. Being able to support Van Andel Institute and other families who are going through what we've gone through means a lot to me and my family.

"Cancer is very aggressive. I know that firsthand. It can take someone you love. Anything we can do to help fight and find a cure is helping. I don't want people to have to go through this."

The Hope College Purple Community soccer games benefit Van Andel Institute, world-class cancer and, neurodegenerative research and science education organization, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At noon Saturday, the 15th-ranked Flying Dutch will face Capital University (Ohio). At 2:30 p.m., the Flying Dutchmen will play Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Indiana).

All proceeds will go to Van Andel Institute and help fund a summer internship for a Hope College student to perform research in a Van Andel Institute laboratory. This summer, Hope College student Geordan Stukey, a senior majoring in biology, had the opportunity to intern at the Van Andel Institute.

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Mr. Glendening, 80, died only two days before he was scheduled to begin treatment. He was married to his wife of 60 years, Barbara Born Glendening. Originally from Kalamazoo, the couple spent summers in Holland.

Mr. Glendening founded Kapco, a pharmaceutical company, with his brothers John (Marilyn) Glendening and Larry (Betty) Glendening. He spent the remainder and bulk of his career at The Upjohn Company, where he was employed for 28 years.

Beird recalls seeing her grandfather whenever she competed or participated in a school activity, whether in college or high school. She misses him.

"Grandpa was very dependable. I could count on him for anything in my life that I needed," Beird said. "He was my No. 1 in everything I did. He was always there to support me, even if things went wrong. He taught me how to be a strong, independent woman in all areas of my life: as an athlete and as a person of faith. He was a good mentor."

Hope.edu | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422