On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach partnered with Hyundai Hope on Wheels and Hyundai Motor America in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Hyundai Hope On Wheels awarded the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute a $100,000 impact grant to support research initiatives and improve the care and resources for children fighting cancer, such as the School Reintegration Program.

To commemorate the ceremony, pediatric patients stamped painted handprints on a new Hyundai with hopes to raise awareness for childhood cancer across America. Additionally, attendees wrote words of encouragement on Ribbons of Hope cards for the patients currently receiving treatment and for the patients who are too sick to leave the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute.

“Long-term hospitalization with a life-threatening condition impacts our patients physically, mentally, socially, and academically,” said Jacqueline Casillas M.D., medical director, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute. “This impact grant will further support our School Reintegration Program, which is designed to help children return to school and other daily living situations seamlessly after having to take time off for illness or treatment.”

Through programs like the School Reintegration Program, the Institute helps patients thrive even after their treatments have concluded. The Institute has specially trained psychologists, social workers, and child life specialists, who work directly with school personnel and classmates to provide a smooth transition while emotionally supporting patients' needs.

Antony Alvarado, a past Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute patient who was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor at 9-years-old, and is now a 22-year-old first-year medical student, shared how fortunate he was to participate in the School Reintegration Program.

“I sincerely believe the School Reintegration Program was founded to not only get me back on track with my academics, but help foster my desire to learn, a quality I was nowhere near entertaining before my cancer diagnosis,” said Alvarado. “This desire to learn has continued over the past 13 years as I have pursued my career in medicine and the potential opportunity to return here as a physician one day.”

To conclude the ceremony, pediatric patients of the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute made their mark by stamping their colorful painted handprints onto a new Hyundai vehicle that will travel across the country to bring awareness to the hard work that is being done to fight childhood cancer. Patients further placed handprints onto the lab coat of Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, representing the children whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer.

“Every handprint tells a story in the fight against pediatric cancer,” said Michael Orange, regional general manager, Hyundai Motor America. “They serve as a visible reminder of the children, for whom we are fighting. It is for you, that we joined this fight 25 years ago, and it’s with you, that we will stand for as long as it takes, until we find a cure.”

Hyundai Hope on Wheels has spent 25 years playing a crucial role in creating hope and saving lives in the battle against childhood cancer. Throughout the years, the program has donated an incredible $255 million in grants and fueling nearly 1,300 research studies at more than 175 medical institutions.