Hyundai Hope on Wheels Boosts Local Pediatric Cancer Work

If you’ve bought a Hyundai, pat yourself on the back because you’ve helped kids with cancer. You may not even know it, because as they say at Hyundai Hope on Wheels, not all super heroes wear capes, but they do wear lab coats.

With every purchase of a Hyundai, a donation is given to Hope of Wheels, which funds pediatric cancer grants, totaling $130 million over the course of the 19 year program. The goal is good – aiming to get the pediatric cancer survival rate up from 80% to 100% – but it goes beyond that, with a focus on research on lower toxicity treatments that will have fewer long-term impacts for survivors.

Or “less cost for the cure,” as Dr. Crystal Mackall of Stanford University said during a grant awards dinner and celebration of life in San Francisco.

The awards dinner was Sept. 1, the first day of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, but this is something that Hope on Wheels works for “every day of every month,” as noted by Khaled Aldada, a San Jose Hyundai dealer.

There is no cute or fun way to tie in a post about childhood cancer. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by pediatric cancer, and all parents can empathize with those receiving devastating news about their child. We’re fortunate in the Bay Area to leave near UCSF and Stanford, both of which have top notch children’s hospitals. Not many places have such excellent options if a pediatric cancer doctor is needed. Here, we have a choice.

Nick Norcia leaves his handprint, with Khaled Aldada (center) and Hope on Wheels Executive Director Zafar Brooks. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Hope on Wheels.

Friday night was to celebrate the doctors and families they’ve helped. Moments were sad, but the event was uplifting, especially when South Bay high school junior Nick Norcia told about his fight with leukemia, beginning with a diagnosis on his 13th birthday. Nick’s talk was a highlight of the event, as he told about going from a stay at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital to playing hockey again.

The talented Luke Wade. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Hope on Wheels.

Both UCSF and Stanford took home grants from Hope on Wheels Friday night, as part of the 40 grants totaling $8.5 million that Hyundai is awarding this month alone. Outside of their usual research grants, also on Friday, Hope on Wheels donated $200,000 to five children’s hospitals in Texas to directly help with patient needs (formula, diapers, home health equipment, etc.) related to Hurricane Harvey.

Research proposals are submitted to Hyundai Hope on Wheels annually, then submissions are peer reviewed by a science panel to determine greatest impact on improving cures. Only 4% of federal cancer research spending goes toward pediatric cancer, making private grants like Hope on Wheels crucial help toward finding new therapies.

A few years ago, I talked to a mom a knew a little bit from school and she asked about my job. I went on and on, rambling about social media and digital marketing, during which she asked questions as though it was a big deal. Then I asked her what she did for work, and she said, “I’m a pediatric oncologist at Packard.”

The ground did not open up and swallow me whole as I wished it would.

“Why didn’t you stop me?” I asked. Here she is doing really important, life saving work, while I was going on about Facebook analytics for posts about shopping or summer camp. She said she thought that what I said was interesting, further confirming her saintly status. Without her lab coat, I didn’t see her cape.

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