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FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — Hyundai Motor America used the ongoing New York International Auto Show as backdrop to begin the 2010 Hyundai Hope on Wheels. It's the automaker's philanthropic endeavor aimed at raising money for pediatric cancer research.

Hyundai chief executive officer John Krafcik announced that this year's tour will incorporate dealers as well on its way to visiting more than 40 children's hospitals across the country. Krafcik indicated that the project will donate $2.1 million to support childhood cancer research.

"At Hyundai, we believe in doing what others might think is impossible," Krafcik stressed

"With the dramatic increase in survival rates that we've seen over the past several decades, we believe that a cure for pediatric cancer is now within reach," he continued.

"Hyundai is focusing the bulk of our philanthropic efforts on funding childhood cancer research through Hope on Wheels so that one day no child will ever have to face cancer," Krafcik added.

Hyundai also began this endeavor with its Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador. Brianna Commerford, now age 12, has battled Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma since she was 10. Commerford is now healthy and in remission.

While at New York International Auto Show, the automaker made a $125,000 donation to the Hope & Heroes program at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. The funds will be used for the research conducted by doctors Jennifer Levine and Julia Glade Bender.

"Since 2004, Hyundai has been a dedicated donor to the children's cancer research program at the Herbert Irving Child and Adolescent Oncology Center," noted Michael Weiner, director of the Herbert Irving Child and Adolescent Oncology Center at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.

"We are proud to be a recipient of Hyundai's generosity and ongoing support for children with cancer," Weiner added.

When Hyundai dealers gather for their annual meeting later this month at the automaker's plant in Montgomery, Ala., the OEM plans to hand over $40,000 to the Children's Hospital of Alabama.

"On behalf of Hyundai dealers across the country, Hope on Wheels is honored to continue its support for childhood cancer research in 2010 and recognize the brave children who are battling this disease," stated Oscar Leeser, president of the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation and owner of the Hyundai of El Paso dealership in El Paso, Texas.

"We are proud to be able to award research grants to the Hyundai Scholars — they are the pediatric oncologists whose unwavering dedication to research helps to care for children facing cancer and gives them hope for a healthy future," Leeser went on to say.

The automaker has orchestrated Hyundai Hope on Wheels for 12 years. The company has donated more than $14 million to children's hospitals nationwide. Every time a new Hyundai vehicle is sold in the U.S., $5 is donated to Hope on Wheels

For more details about the project, visit www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org.