Hyundai Hope on Wheels Celebration of Life

Pediatric Cancer is a complete contradiction to everything a child is and wants to do.  It is savage, depriving and despite advancements in research, one in five children diagnosed with the disease will not survive.

Hope on WheelsCredit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

September is important because it is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  It is a time when the pediatric cancer community comes together to support all children and families impacted by this disease.  This past Tuesday I was invited to attend the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Celebration of Life dinner for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in Dallas, TX.

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Hyundai Hope on Wheels, is a non-profit organization devoted to grant funding pediatric cancer research. In September alone, they awarded $8.5 million to hospitals across the country towards their research initiatives including $150,000 grant to Children’s Health UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

Since the inception of the program in 1998, Hyundai Hope on Wheels has awarded nearly $130 million to Children’s Oncology Group member institutions nationwide.  The program funds research grants for U.S. -based projects only.  In 2017 alone, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will award more than $15 million in grants.  They believe that the doctors, nurses and staff that are working to save the lives of children with pediatric children every day are Superheroes.  “They Don’t Wear Capes, but They Do Wear Lab Coats.”

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Grant recipients of the evening included:

Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant ($250,000)

– Dr. Christopher Porter, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
– Dr. Julie Wolfson, University of Alabama – Birmingham

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

 Hyundai Young Investigator  Grant ($150,000)

– Dr. Kathryn Dickerson, UT Southwestern Children’s Medical Center Foundation
– Dr. Wendy Allen-Rhoades, Texas Children’s Hospital

We were able to hear directly from those in the trenches during the Pediatric Thought Leaders Panel.  

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

While there are many encouraging things happening in the field research wise, including a genome project to help understand where in the genetics Pediatric Cancer takes hold, we were reminded that research is costly but generates no revenue.  Which is why foundations like Hyundai Hope on Wheels is so important to fight this fight.

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

A special musical performance by Luke Wade was entertaining.  It brought a smile to every face in the room when he brought up the children that were there, whose very lives we were celebrating that evening.

At the end of the evening there was a pervasive hope filling the room as we watched Hope on Wheel’s signature “Handprint Ceremony.” The logo for the organization includes three handprints.  

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Why handprints?  Because there is nothing more personal than a handprint, each handprint’s story is distinctive in its own way.  Whether it’s completing a round of chemo, celebrating a beautiful new head of hair or receiving a clean bill of health, one child’s milestone can be another’s symbol of hope.  And these handprints serve as their symbol.  

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Each year Hope on Wheel’s visits children’s hospitals across the U.S. to donate funds and raise awareness.  The “Handprint Ceremony” captures each child’s handprint in paint.  

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

These handprints are placed on Hyundai cars that travel across the country to build awareness of the program.

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Credit: Jaren Collins – JCI Creatives

Hyundai Motor America and its more than 830 dealers and customers support the cause with a donation from every new vehicle sold.  

I was very honored to be able to attend this dinner and want to share some additional resources with you, so you too can find out more information about Hope on Wheels.  Please visit: www.HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter, by visiting: facebook.com/HyundaiHopeOnWheels and twitter.com/HopeOnWheels.

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