I’m not going to lie, cars have never really interested me. Instead of viewing them as prized pieces of machinery with finesse and power, I simply considered them as vehicles that transported me from one place to another. But last week, all of that changed. Why? Because I attended an event where I learned all about a popular and innovative car brand by hearing nothing about their vehicles but instead learning all about how they are supporting cancer stricken children and their families.
All photo credits: David Alexander
Hyundai Hope on Wheels invited me to attend their event free of cost. All opinions are my own.
You see, Hyundai is a company that isn’t just invested in cars, trucks, and SUVs. Instead, it is a company that invests in families and medical teams that are waging a war against childhood cancer. In 1998, Hyundai and a group of New England-area Hyundai dealers joined the fight against pediatric cancer by supporting a local initiative and this philanthropic campaign grew nationwide and evolved into Hyundai Hope on Wheels.
The goal of Hyundai Hope on Wheels is to fund pediatric cancer research, drive innovative research, and create new discoveries that increase the survival rates of those with disease. Hyundai Motor America and its more than 830 dealers and customers support the cause with a donation from every new vehicle sold—that amounts to $130 million in lifetime funding to pediatric research in the US—and growing. It is evident that Hyundai’s philosophy of “Making Things Better” is not just related to their products and service, but also to their communities and our future.
While the cure rate of pediatric cancer is relatively high (80%), it does not tell the entire story. Many forms of pediatric cancer remain high risk and have shown little progress, and often young patients suffer life long side effects even after beating their initial cancer diagnosis. That’s why Hyundai Hope on Wheels is so dedicated to funding research to find a cure for 100% of childhood cancer.
More than 780 grants have been awarded over the past 19 years and I was able to witness the awarding of a $250,000 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital during a reception last week at the Park Hyatt Chicago.
Even as an experienced writer, I struggle to come up with the words to describe the hope that filled the room with each talented doctor and researcher being recognized and awarded with funds to help save children’s lives. This event was one of many September Hyundai Hope on Wheels activities occurring around the country to recognize and honor National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. By month’s end, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will award 40 research grants totaling $8.5 million to institutions nationwide.
As impressive as it was to see generous grants being awarded and doctors and researchers sharing their insights on how we can find a cure for pediatric cancer, they were not the true stars of the show. Who was? The valiant and inspirational cancer fighters and survivors who attended the dinner and reception with their families. I was moved to tears by an emotional mom taking us on a ride through her brave son’s cancer battle and cheering for two Youth Ambassadors who shared their stories on how they beat cancer.
The clear highlight of the night was the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Handprint Ceremony. This symbolic and just plain fun activity was for the children battling cancer, their families, and pediatric oncology doctors and researchers in attendance to add their handprint to the cause. Their colorful handprints were memorialized and included on the iconic Hyundai hero vehicle, sharing their unique stories and the power of hope as it travels across the country.
As a mom of two young boys, I hope that I never hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” Honestly, I hope that NO ONE ever has to hear those awful words. But it is reassuring to know that if that difficult day does come, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will be there to support us on the journey to find a cure for childhood cancer. And don’t forget, you can help support this life saving cause by purchasing a vehicle from Hyundai Motor America or making a donation. Hope truly does come standard. To learn more about Hyundai Hope on Wheels and how you can help kids fight cancer, click here.