Hyundai Brings ‘Hope on Wheels’ to Children with Cancer

August 28, 2012

Zoe Chen, 13, who recently completed treatment for leukemia, joins Kevin Reilly of Alexandria Hyundai in placing her paint-covered hands on the new car.
Zoe Chen, 13, who recently completed treatment for leukemia, joins Kevin Reilly of Alexandria Hyundai in placing her paint-covered hands on the new car.

Zoe Chen, a 13-year-old leukemia survivor, had some wise words of advice for a room full of other children battling childhood cancers.

“Follow the treatment plan your doctors have for you; don’t keep all your problems to yourself because you have wonderful people supporting you,” Chen said. “Also, keeping yourself entertained in hospital and at home helps.”

Finally, she offered: “Know that this will be over, maybe not as fast you’d like it to be, but it will be over.”

Chen, who recently finished treatment at Georgetown for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, spoke at an August 22 event held to celebrate the relationship between Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program.

Hope on Wheels, which tours children’s hospitals throughout the country each year donating funds for pediatric cancer research, has given nearly $500,000 to Georgetown Lombardi since 2004.

Held in the historic Medical-Dental Building on the campus of Georgetown University Medical Center, the event was followed by a handprint ceremony in which patients and survivors placed their hands dipped in colorful paint on a new white Hyundai Tucson, the official vehicle of the program, to commemorate their battles with cancer.

Addressing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Cancer
Hyundai presented a $75,000 grant award to Scott Myers, MD, an attending physician in the department of pediatric hematology/oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. As the new Hyundai Scholar, Myers will use the funds to support his research into the long-term needs and challenges faced by young cancer survivors following treatment.

Myers and his colleagues are conducting extensive interviews of families affected by childhood cancer to capture the range of issues faced by these young patients long after treatment is over. With the information they gather, they hope to pinpoint the areas in need of prospective research studies to help improve patients’ quality of life as they enter adulthood.

“We are fully committed to ensuring that we do not stop just at treating cancer, but that we identify the challenges of the medical, social and emotional needs of children as they grow older and become the next generation of leaders in our society,” said Myers, who won the grant last year as well.

Sam Brnovich, general manager of the Southern Region, Hyundai Motor America, presented the award.

“Today we will honor the brave children receiving treatment at Georgetown Lombardi, some of whom are with us today to add their handprints to the Hyundai Hope on Wheels,” said Brnovich.

Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program has donated more than $45 million to pediatric cancer research since its inception in 1998.

“Thanks to the commitment of Hyundai, Georgetown Lombardi can address the effects of cancer on children’s health and development as they mature into adults,” said Georgetown Lombardi Director Louis M. Weiner, MD.

Making the Journey Easier
For Zoe Chen and the many young cancer patients and survivors like her, the research funding represents hope in an otherwise bleak situation.

“Even though kids and teens can and will survive, it doesn’t mean everything will be easy … We have tough procedures and radiation to undergo and the fear of losing our friends. We have the loss of our hair, scars on our bodies and other changes to mark what we’ve been through,” she said.

“So thank you to Hyundai for helping to make our journey easier and less painful than what it was in the past.”

Patients, survivors, families and doctors joined together for a reception following the ceremony, with all food donated by Windows Catering Company of Washington, DC.

Author: Lauren Wolkoff - Georgetown Lombardi Communications