Hyundai Motors marked the 25th anniversary of "Hope on Wheels" in Washington DC, highlighting their pivotal contributions to pediatric cancer research and treatment across the United States.
On September 20th, 2023, Hyundai Motors commemorated the 25th anniversary of its "Hope on Wheels" initiative, which has transformed the landscape of pediatric cancer research and treatment in the United States. The 25th-anniversary gala was held in a grand celebration at the Nationals Park Stadium, Washington DC. Hyundai Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassadors Oliver Foster and Raynie Clark had a chance to take part in ceremonial pitches ahead of the Washington Nationals baseball game. It also featured testimonials from pediatric cancer survivors, research scientists, and healthcare practitioners who have directly benefited from the funds and resources provided by Hyundai, along with the visit of Hyundai CEO Euisun Chung and several members of Congress, including US Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and US Representative Mike Kelly (PA-16).
Hope on Wheels – A Catalyst of Support for Pediatric Cancer Research
Founded in 1998, "Hope on Wheels" is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on finding cures for pediatric cancer and building awareness about cancer. Rooted in the vision of giving back to society, this initiative stands as a testament to the automaker's commitment to making a tangible difference in the communities it serves.
How this nonprofit organization works unfolds in two ways. Each time a Hyundai vehicle is purchased, a portion of those proceeds goes directly to “Hope on Wheels”, exemplifying Hyundai's dedication to driving hope for children and families impacted by this devastating illness.
Hyundai is the primary donor of this program, along with its 820 US dealers nationwide. For 25 years, Hyundai has contributed around $225 million to the "Hope on Wheels" initiative, providing more than 1,300 grants to 175 eligible medical institutions nationwide. These funds have gone directly to supporting ground-breaking research projects, innovative treatments, and essential infrastructure in the fight against pediatric cancer.
These grants are presented every September during the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Handprint Ceremonies. Participants – including cancer patients and survivors, medical professionals, and Hyundai collaborators – immerse their hands in paint to leave their mark on a Hyundai car and doctors' lab coats. This act embodies the united stand against pediatric cancer and serves as a lasting beacon of hope for finding a cure. Over time, these ceremonies have become emblematic of the foundation, with the handprints in September particularly resonating with its very essence: hope.
National Implications: Aligning with the Biden Administration's Vision
Hyundai's commitment to eradicating pediatric cancer aligns closely with the broader national priorities set by the Biden Administration. President Joe Biden, having faced the loss of his son Joseph Beau Biden III to brain cancer, has often voiced his intent to "end cancer as we know it." His administration has made significant strides in urging the nation to solve cancer problems, reigniting the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, investing in better treatments, and increasing accessibility for all cancer patients. The administration has set bold goals of reducing the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and expanding cancer screening.
Hyundai's "Hope on Wheels" is a beacon in this collective endeavor. By providing consistent funding, it has enabled the medical community to pursue research without the constraints of budgetary limitations. It has played an instrumental role in advancing the understanding of pediatric cancer, resulting in improved survival rates and better quality of life for countless children.
In an era where public-private partnerships are becoming increasingly vital, Hyundai's “Hope on Wheels” is an exemplary model. The public sector's drive, combined with corporate America's resources, can accelerate the US cancer reduction progress, and bring about monumental change. As the Biden Administration continues to prioritize healthcare and research, "Hope on Wheels" not only complements these efforts but also serves as an inspiration for other corporations to step up and play their part.
Driving Forward with Renewed Commitment
As Hyundai Motors celebrated this significant milestone, the company also reiterated its unwavering commitment to the cause. While 25 years is a remarkable achievement, the fight against pediatric cancer at the state and national level is far from over. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), approximately 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer every year. At the same time, states with the highest pediatric cancer incidence rates included New Hampshire (205.5), Washington DC (194.0), and New Jersey (192.3). This equates to 205.5 children out of every 1 million being diagnosed with cancer. To tackle this ongoing issue of childhood cancer, Hyundai aims to continue funding research, fostering collaborations, and driving hope until every child can live a life free from the shadow of cancer.
The celebration at Nationals Park was not just a look-back at the achievements of the past but also a rally for the journey ahead. With partners, survivors, and communities by its side, Hyundai's "Hope on Wheels" is geared up to cruise many more miles, spreading hope and making a difference, one child at a time.
SeungHwan (Shane) Kim is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a graduate student at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where he is focusing on security and statecraft in the Indo-Pacific region.