Young cancer patients give white car a colorful new coat of paint

A unique paint job adorned the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe parked at the University of Illinois at Chicago — it was decorated with colorful handprints from children who have cancer.

These kids, who are getting care UI Health, dipped their hands in blue, green and red paint last week and left a lasting impression on the white car during a ceremony announcing the hospital’s receipt of a Hyundai Impact Award Grant. The $100,000 check was presented to UIC’s Dr. Mary Lou Schmidt, professor and head of pediatric hematology/oncology at the College of Medicine and a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

The children participated in the program’s signature “Handprint Ceremony,” where their colorful handprints on the official “Hope Vehicle” are meant to represent their individual and collective journey, hopes and dreams. UI Health is one of 77 beneficiaries of the award granted from Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a nonprofit organization supported by Hyundai and its U.S. dealers.

Having been awarded a similar grant six years ago, Schmidt knew the impact it could make.

Hope on Wheels “Handprint” Ceremony (Photo: Courtney Colvin)

“We used our grant in 2013 to further grow our Children’s Oncology Group Program by opening more clinical trials and increasing enrollments at UIC, Rush University Medical Center and the John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County,” Schmidt said.

“The 2019-2020 Hyundai Hope on Wheels grant will be used to grow our Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program by funding a patient navigator to help coordinate care and make sure that each patient treated is offered all possible opportunities to enroll in clinical trials that can impact these young individuals in the future.”

During the presentation, 27-year-old Christine Adley, who lost her right leg to cancer as a 2-year-old and subsequently developed breast cancer at the age of 23, expressed tremendous gratitude to her medical team at UI Health and encouraged the youngsters to have hope that they will overcome the deadly disease, as she has.

“I’m cancer-free, and I feel great,” she said.