Sylvester Physician Awarded Hyundai Hope On Wheels Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research

Representatives from Hyundai Motor America and South Florida Hyundai dealers gathered at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on June 25 to award Yolanda Cosme, M.D., hematology/oncology fellow, a $75,000 Hyundai Scholar Grant for her work in pediatric cancer research. Much of the applause and strong turnout of local media, however, was for the real stars of the event – the pediatric cancer patients who are facing their disease with great courage, and were there for the handprint ceremony.

Since 2010, Hyundai’s Hope On Wheels has given more than $400,000 to Sylvester physicians. This year, Hope On Wheels will donate $14 million to children’s hospitals nationwide through its Hyundai Scholar Grant and Hyundai Hope Grant programs, which are aimed at research and clinical programs that improve the lives of children battling cancer.

Cosme’s research centers on a type of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) that is resistant to traditional chemotherapy, by targeting glucose metabolism to promote cell death. In thanking the Hope On Wheels committee, Cosme said Hyundai “shares the same commitment to fight childhood cancer.”

John Hyland, regional sales manager for Hyundai, said Hope On Wheels is marking its 15th year, and will surpass $72 million in total donations to pediatric cancer research programs. Sylvester is one of 40 programs to receive a Hyundai Scholar Grant.

Stephen. D. Nimer, M.D., Director of Sylvester, said the young patients and their families are an inspiration to the physicians and staff of alex’s place, the pediatric oncology clinic at Sylvester. “Hyundai’s support allows us to make a difference in the lives of these young patients,” said Nimer.

Leading the children who took part in the Hope On Wheels Handprint Ceremony was 15-year-old Zoila Garcia, who lost part of her left leg to synovial sarcoma and now uses a wheelchair. Originally from the Dominican Republic, where she was misdiagnosed, Zoila said her advice to other children with cancer was to “always smile” since it’s easier to get through your treatment being happy.

Zoila and several other children battling cancer dipped their hands in colorful paint and then placed their handprints on Cosme’s lab coat and on a white 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, the official vehicle of the Hyundai Hope On Wheels program.

“Hyundai has made a significant commitment to the quest to cure childhood cancer, and we are proud that our pediatric oncology program has been an award recipient for the past four years,” said Julio Barredo, M.D., Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Director of Children’s Cancer Programs at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This grant recognizes the outstanding research of a young physician scientist and furthers our overall goal of curing childhood cancer.”

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