Dozens of Spectrum Health doctors and care team members lined up at the wooded trails at Aquinas College, smiles shining and shoelaces snug.

Alongside them were patients, family members and community members.

What brought them together, all eager to run on this sunny Sunday morning? The Fox Trot 5K.

The event, organized entirely by volunteers, encourages team building and supports well-being through healthy physical activity.

This year’s course meandered through the picturesque trails at the college.

It also afforded many moments of congratulations and thanks to a pivotal Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital team member who recently retired.

The King of Distraction: Child Life specialist Rhys VanDemark.

The Child and Family Life team was out in full force at Sunday’s run, many wearing Hawaiian shirts and carrying signs bidding VanDemark a happy retirement.

VanDemark attended with his daughter, Lucy, and dog, George.

“It was fun to get together with everyone outside of the hospital,” VanDemark said. “It’s a very special place within those four walls, but every once in a while we need to step outside as a team, too.”

Amy Davis, manager of the Child and Family Life team at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said her team is close-knit.

“Rhys has been a part of our family for more than 30 years,” Davis said. “It’s definitely going to be hard to fill his shoes. But our team is resilient and always shows up for a challenge.”

Some of the physicians who ran were Beth Kurt, MD, Deanna Mitchell, MD, Lisa Lowery, MD, and Caleb Bupp, MD.

Dr. Bupp was first to cross the finish line.

Given that the event had been virtual last year, the participants were eager to get back together in person for the fun-filled morning.

Nikita Vandenbosch, nurse practitioner in the pediatric critical care unit at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, served as race director for the event.

Each runner was sponsored by individuals who made donations on their behalf, with proceeds supporting future events.

“This year we’re emphasizing community connections and how camaraderie in fitness can improve commitment and goal-setting,” Vandenbosch said.

The theme: Build resilience through shared experience.

Building a sense of community involves doing things together, both inside and outside a work setting. 

That’s how the idea for the Fox Trot blossomed.

It wasn’t a timed race, either—just a fun physical activity designed to promote togetherness and good health.

“When we are able to bring our best self to work, we know our patients are getting the best care,” Vandenbosch said. “And providing outstanding care to our patients is our No. 1 goal.”