Leon West was smiling this week, as the Hyundai Help for Kids charity reached a massive milestone.
Cobram’s HS West Motors dealer principal said there was a contribution from every Hyundai sold.
‘‘It’s an excellent program,’’ Mr West said.
‘‘We are happy to be a part of it — raising $5million in three years is an amazing effort,’’ he said.
Hyundai Help for Kids is the charitable arm of Hyundai Motor Company Australia.
Established in January 2014, Hyundai Help for Kids is the Australian extension of Hyundai’s global Corporate Social Responsibility program, Moving The World Together, and has provided grants totalling $5049556 so far to a range of organisations dedicated to helping Australian children and their families in times of need.
The program is a collaboration between Hyundai Motor Company Australia and its 168-strong national dealer network, with funds being raised for Hyundai Help for Kids every time a Hyundai is sold in Australia.
The family tree of charitable organisations helped by those funds currently numbers 18, and features such well-known names as Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, Make a Wish Australia and the Clown Doctors.
Impressive as this effort is, it’s the individual stories of how this investment can change lives that are most inspiring, as is the case with 11-year-old Eve.
Eve, the youngest of four children from Coffs Harbour in NSW, is a little girl with a huge smile who suffered mysterious pains in her leg over the Easter break in 2015.
She was sent to Sydney for a week of tests, needles and a bone biopsy, which revealed the worst news any parent could hear: Eve had cancer.
She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that would change her life — and that of her family — forever.
While her father, Jeff, stayed in Coffs with her three siblings, her mother Rebecca spent months with Eve at Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation, love and companionship for families who need the help of the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.
It was there that Eve endured 10 months of chemotherapy and a number of surgeries, including one to remove a cancerous tumour and replace it with a metal prosthesis from her thigh to her ankle.
It was the toughest time imaginable, but this bright and brave little girl — speaking about her experiences in the moving film Eve’s Journey — remembers the fun times; making good friends, meeting amazing people, including the hosts of Today, and her favourite singer, Taylor Swift.
One of her happiest memories, though, was the Clown Doctors.
‘‘They came to your bed and just make you laugh, it was really fun,’’ Eve said.
In the midst of the most serious treatment, the fact that a charity can put a smile on the face of a girl like Eve is surely something close to miraculous.
And then a greater miracle, just shy of almost a year of active treatment, Eve got to ring the bell at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, which marks the day a child’s treatment is over and they can go home.
Back on her feet, back in Coffs and at school for Year 6, Eve is taking acting lessons, smiling again and said the Clown Doctors inspired her to do something creative with her life.
‘‘Thanks to researchers, doctors and nurses I am here today, I just wanted to say a big thank you,’’ she said.
Her journey is just one of the thousands of difficult paths trodden by families with sick children, paths that are made easier by the work of charities that Hyundai Help for Kids supports.
Eve’s life was touched by so many of these, not just the Clown Doctors and Ronald McDonald House, but the Kids Research Institute – Bone Injury Research Project at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Her mother, Rebecca, said no ‘thank you’ could ever be enough for the people who helped her family.
‘‘The work of organisations like Hyundai Help for Kids are the sort of thing you never really pay enough attention to, until you need them, and then you just can’t believe how wonderful they are, and how much they help families in need,’’ Rebecca said.
●Watch Eve’s Journey, a short film, at: http://bit.ly/EvesJourney-YT
Goals For Grassroots; Little Wings; Clown Doctors (The Humour Foundation); Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation; Ronald McDonald House Charities (Australia); Make A Wish Australia; Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children; Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation – Hyundai Help for Kids Cancer Research Project; Life Education Australia; Kids Research Institute – Bone Injury Project at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead; Bear Cottage.
NSW: Assistance Dogs Australia.
Victoria: Down Syndrome Victoria; Kidsafe Victoria; Berry Street.
Queensland: Hyundai Help for Kids Lions Academy; Keema Children’s Foundation – Little Stars Kids Camp.
South Australia: Can:Do 4 Kids.