Last Thursday I was invited to attend the Hope On Wheels Celebration of Life Dinner at the Park Hyatt in Chicago. I ate good food. I made new friends. I laughed. I cried. And most importantly, I learned so much more about pediatric cancer research and what Hyundai Hope on Wheels is doing to fund that research.
The event is part of the Hyundai Hope on Wheels activities in September in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., which means one child is diagnosed every 36 minutes – or more than a classroom full of children each day. Through cancer research, survival rates are approaching 80% for the most common forms of cancer. However, there still needs to be more research to get the survival rate to 100%.
I learned that Hyundai Hope on Wheels was created to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to fund research to treat and (hopefully) end pediatric cancer.
What I experienced at this dinner really touched my heart. As a mother, I do not want to see my child suffering or in pain. I listened to other families talk about how they found out their children had cancer, the treatments their children had to go through, and the emotional roller coaster it can take on a family. No child should ever hear the words “you have cancer.” And no parent should have to see their child suffering from or fighting cancer. I thank these families for opening up their hearts and being so brave to share their stories and giving me a greater appreciation of how cancer research can help save our children’s lives.
I also got a chance to hear what some of the doctors are learning from their research and the advancement in pediatric cancer treatment now compared to 20 years ago. These doctors and researchers are truly real life heroes!
For me, the theme of the night was HOPE. Hope is what we hold onto during times of struggle and pain. Hope is what keeps our dreams alive.
I left the dinner with this hope that all the pediatric cancer research out there will one day cure and end all pediatric cancers.
Highlights at the Hope on Wheels Celebration of Life Dinner
A highlight of the night was listening to a Hyundai Hope On Wheels National Youth Ambassador, Ryan Darby – a 14 year old cancer survivor talk about how he overcame cancer. Ryan was diagnosed with Leukemia at 6 years old. I’m not even his mom but I was so proud of him for standing up in front of the crowd and speaking about cancer.
Another highlight was watching the Hyundai Hope on Wheels organization present Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital each with a $250,000 Hyundai Scholar of Hope Grant. The grant funds will support the hospitals’ pediatric cancer research. Through research, I truly believe we can find a cure to cancer.
A really fun highlight of the night was Handprint Ceremony where every child at the dinner who was battling cancer or have faced cancer got up on stage, put paint on their hands, and put their hand prints on a big canvas to signify their hopes and dreams.
What I Learned about Hyundai Hope on Wheels
I came home that night spouting all these facts to Charlie. With so much negative news on TV, it feels good to know there is a lot more good going on too. I was so excited to tell him what I learned that night and I am just as excited to be sharing them here on my blog!
Hyundai Hope on Wheels is a non-profit organization that is committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer.
The organization started in 1998 have awarded $130 million in pediatric research grants since it began.
The primary funding comes from Hyundai Motor America and its more than the company’s 830 dealers.
For every new Hyundai vehicle purchase, a portion of the sale goes towards the Hyundai Hope on Wheels organization.
The logo for the organization includes three handprints, which represent the children who are fighting cancer, those who won their battles, and sadly those who have lost to pediatric cancer.
In 2017, Hyundai Hope on Wheels’ goal is to award $15 million in pediatric cancer research grants.
Thank you Hyundai Hope on Wheels for inviting me to the dinner and for partnering on this post I learned so much about all you do and what the research community is doing.
A portion of this sponsored post will be donated to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital here in Chicago.