Doctors, patients and community members alike gathered in the UNC Children’s Hospital on Wednesday for a celebration of cancer research. Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a non-profit organization, presented Lineberger Cancer Center researchers with a Hyundai Impact Award.

The $100,000 donation is for outstanding work in the field of pediatric cancer and will go toward UNC Lineberger’s early phase clinical trials.

UNC Lineberger Hyundai Hope on Wheels event. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Dr. Thomas Alexander, a clinical researcher at the cancer center, said his division will benefit greatly from this award and said it will help create more efficiency in his research. He said moments like Wednesday’s recognition help keep his spirits high.

“It’s interesting how much of the grind there is to it: the paperwork, the frustrations and the failures,” said Alexander. “It sometimes leads you to forget why you’re doing all this work. But this, as well as rolling patients on trials and seeing their responses, helps change those things.”

UNC is one of 21 institutions Hyundai Hope on Wheels is donating to this year, according to the organization. The non-profit is in its twentieth year providing research grants to those studying childhood cancer and will award a total of $15 million to programs throughout 2018.

Hyundai’s Mike Donahue spoke at the event to commend UNC’s work and pledge his company’s support of continuing research across the country.

“While we take great pride in this milestone, there’s much work to be done,” he said. “Our goal remains clear: to end pediatric cancer. You can count on our support until no child has to hear the words ‘you have cancer.’”

UNC Lineberger Hyundai Hope on Wheels event. Photo via Blake Hodge.

One of the final parts of the event was a handprint ceremony. Child patients at UNC Lineberger painted their hands before pressing them onto a white Hyundai vehicle.

Alexander also had a lab coat presented to him by Hyundai painted by the children. With it covered in colorful handprints, he said he hopes the coat will be put to good use during his research.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to just wear it around the lab,” said Alexander. “It’ll be a reminder.”

With it’s donation on Wednesday, Hyundai Hope on Wheels has now donated over $700,000 in total to UNC Lineberger.