Last week I had a chance to attend Hyundai Hope On Wheels‘ 2016 Launch Event, held at the Jacob Javits Center, during the International Auto Show. This event was both inspiring and moving, leaving me thoroughly impressed by Hyundai’s dedication to raising funds and awareness, for pediatric cancer. The Hyundai Hope On Wheels organization has been funding innovative research, creating public awareness, stimulating social media conversation and serving as a thought leader for pediatric cancer since 1998. As a mother, who lost a childhood friend to pediatric cancer, this cause is close to my heart, so I will do whatever it takes to help raise money towards finding a cure for this horrific disease.
In its eighteen year since inception, Hyundai Hope On Wheels has donated a total of $115 million in pediatric cancer research in the United States.
The event welcomed new ambassadors, pediatric cancer survivors Ryan Darby and Hannah Adams, who will travel around the United States, to visit children’s hospitals and attend events, where they will share their stories of courage and hope. Listening to their heroic stories that evening, showed the room the true meaning strength.
Hannah was first diagnosed with a Stage 3 Wilms tumor that enveloped her kidney at 5 1/2 years old. She is a brave young cancer fighter, who says “I am VERY passionate about finding a cure; I want to inspire people, as well as help kids and their families through their fight.”
Ryan was 6 when he was first diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). He says about fighting pediatric cancer, “I want the whole world to know, that this is a disease that we can beat! It is going to take more than one 12 year old boy to beat cancer, but I have done it before and I won’t stop until we do it again together!”
Just to give you the statistics of its gravity, every 36 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. That’s enough children to fill a classroom each day! Although 80% of cancers are being cured, it still remains the leading cause of death by disease in kids- more than AIDS, asthma and diabetes combined. These stats are extremely alarming, especially the fact that it affects innocent children. What’s also alarming is the lack of funding in fighting childhood cancer. Less than 4% of National Cancer Institute funding goes to Pediatric Cancer. Thankfully, there are organizations like Hyundai Hope On Wheels, amongst others around the country who are working together to help end Childhood Cancer.
That evening, Hope On Wheels granted four institutions 2016 Hyundai Quantum Award winners, each of whom were awarded a $1 million grant for pediatric cancer research.
At every grant presentation, a “Handprint Ceremony” takes place. This is the program’s signature activity, which captures each child’s handprint, by placing it on Hyundai cars that travel across the country to build awareness of the program. There is nothing more personal than a handprint, as each 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.
Many families were present with their children who are cancer survivors, along with some of the doctors who treated them. Year after year, families are united during this ceremony, and it was truly touching to witness the supportive community for the children and families affected.
2016 is a “quantum” year for Hope On Wheels, and will breakthrough with bold research, awareness and community engagement to help make a Day Without Cancer, a reality. Please join me and the community to help #EndChildhoodCancer by clicking here.