When Nanette Grana, M.D., stepped up to the lectern to receive a grant for $100,000 from Hyundai Hope on Wheels, she had no idea that the local Hyundai dealers were about to match the award with an additional $100,000 bonus grant.
“I was very surprised because that’s an incredible amount of money,” says Grana, who has specialized in pediatric hematology and oncology in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, for over 30 years. “It is definitely needed.”
The $200,000 will be directed to Grana’s work with the newly established genetic predisposition program, which helps identify pediatric cancer patients who have an increased likelihood to develop certain diseases, based on the presence of one or more genetic variants.
“This care is crucial to prevent future cancers and improve a child’s quality of life,” Grana says. “I am very grateful to Hyundai. They have definitely provided a gift of life to these children.”
The grant will fund a genetic counselor to help patients and families better understand various health risks that have been identified through genetic testing and support the discovery of new genetic variants that could cause a predisposition, so the hospital can diagnose more types of cancer sooner.
A geneticist will also be added to the program to conduct the genetic testing and study the health history of patients and families. A database will track participants in the program to help determine what type of screening will be recommended to catch diseases early.
“The goal is to catch cancer at the earliest stage possible, so we can create better outcomes and avoid the need for chemotherapy and radiation,” Grana says. “We will work with patients to avoid risky diets and lifestyles that genetic markers indicate may lead to cancer or other diseases. If we catch it early, it is highly curable.”
“We are deeply grateful for the investment Hyundai is making in our genetic predisposition program,” says Jenine Rabin, executive vice president of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Foundation, Community Relations and Health Equity Integration. “Hyundai Hope on Wheels has been fighting pediatric cancer for over 25 years, and we are happy to now be on the front line with them as we all work to take care of kids and families who are battling this disease.”
After the check presentation, Hyundai hosted a “Handprint Ceremony” to capture patients’ colorful handprints in paint, to “leave a mark” on a Hyundai Santa Fe that will travel across the country to build colorful awareness of the program.