Full power for a good cause: Salzburg Children’s Cancer Aid & PALFINGER

Every year, 300 children and teenager in Austria are confronted with cancer. Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid has been supporting them since 1987. Founded by affected families for affected families, the volunteer association provides financial support directly and unbureaucratically. Children's Cancer Aid is also actively creating a better system. This includes, for example, setting up a children’s oncology unit and a research laboratory. Initiatives that are only possible through donations. PALFINGER not only wants to provide financial support, but also wants to help children with cancer and their families experience an enjoyable, carefree day out. That is why around 20 years ago, PALFINGER decided not only to sponsor the sports car tour, but also to organize it.


After more than 37 years caring for children with cancer and after 30 years as chairwoman and co-founder of Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid, Heide Janik, together with her successor Claudia Kopp, spoke about the successes of recent years and the importance of sponsors such as PALFINGER.  



“When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer abroad in the 1980s, we received excellent care in Brussels. Back in Salzburg, I was shocked by the poor conditions. The long waiting times and the shared accommodation of immunosuppressed and infectious children were unbearable. In 1986, affected parents came together and in 1987 we founded the Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid. Thanks to the support of private individuals, the media and our dedicated team, we raised 23 million shillings (1.67 million euros) to improve conditions,” says Heide Janik.


The foundation stone was laid and we could begin: Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid milestones

The sunshine unit and the mobile rainbow team

In 1994, working together with the Salzburg province government, the regional media community and numerous supporters, Salzburg Children’s Cancer Aid founded the children's oncology sunshine unit at the Salzburg clinic to meet the needs of those affected. Here, treatment and care are provided to international standards, and painting and music therapy are also available to families.

Another major milestone was the implementation of the mobile care service, despite great initial resistance. In addition, Salzburg Children’s Cancer Aid financed the training of doctors and nurses for this purpose. “Organized closely together with the sunshine unit, the rainbow team ensures a seamless transition from hospital to the home environment, a system that others have now adopted from us,” says Janik.

 © Image Copyright: Salzburger Kinderkrebshilfe

The research laboratory

“In order to obtain results more quickly, we have set up a research laboratory ourselves. Together with Prof. Dr. Barbara Kofler, we sat in a small room with a single Apple computer and thought about how to set up the whole thing. In the meantime, our small room has become a laboratory at the Salzburg clinic with 17 employees. They are researching intensively on projects that directly benefit the children,” says Heide Janik.

© Image Copyright: Salzburger Kinderkrebshilfe

Die Sonneninsel

In 2013, the Sonneninsel aftercare center was finally opened in Seekirchen am Wallersee. Here, families can relax and recharge their batteries during or while recovering from the illness. “Support during the illness is important, but aftercare is just as important. When the diagnosis causes the world to collapse all around us, we help find the way back to everyday life to create continuity for families,” says Claudia Kopp. Heide Janik adds: "During therapy, you have no choice, you function. After discharge, many fall into a deep hole. That's why we need contact points for the time afterwards. That's why we took on the Sonneninsel project - a risky, difficult project - because it wasn't fully funded from the outset. Today, Sonneninsel is finished, well established and indispensable. And it needs ongoing financial support."
© Image Copyright: Sonneninsel

All aboard — the PALFINGER sports car tour

Salzburg Children’s Cancer Aid helps exactly where help is needed. For many years, they have received support from PALFINGER. On June 29, 2024, at its headquarters in Salzburg, PALFINGER held the 20th sports car tour for children with cancer and their families. In addition to this event, the Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid is supported with a donation of EUR 30,000. The aim of the PALFINGER sports car tour is to give children with cancer and their families a fun day out.

“With PALFINGER, we have a great, international company at our side that has placed its trust in us for so long and has generously supported us. This gives us planning security and something to look forward to for our families and children — it is also an incredible appreciation of our work,” says Claudia Kopp, Chairwoman of Children's Cancer Aid.

This year, around 110 children came to experience a fun day full of excitement: face painting, virtual reality experiences, police dog team demonstrations, PALFINGER products to experience and specialties from the PALFINGER Vitality Kitchen were just a few of the highlights. Then it was time for: All aboard — in the Ferrari, the Maserati or the Mustang. The sports car drivers drove with the children through the Salzburg Lake District to the FANTASIANA theme park.

“It was a day full of generosity, warmth, attention and joy — for the children affected as well as for their siblings and parents. Children and adults eyes lit up, both during the morning activities and at the start of the sports car convoy, which was escorted by the police. Being the center of attention, experiencing such generosity, these are things that will bring everyone wonderful memories,” summarizes Claudia Kopp.

But what significance does the PALFINGER sports car tour have for families? Heide Janik and Claudia Kopp provide some insights.

Heide Janik, you say on your website that the children are ill, but of course they still have dreams and children's needs. The PALFINGER sports car tour aims to give them a grand day out. What significance does this have for families?

Heide Janik: The sports car tour has existed since 2003 and is a fixed point in our annual calendar. For many families we care for, the things they look forward to most are Christmas, Easter, and the sports car tour. They really can’t wait for it to finally start again. It is really one of the best days of the year — everyone can relax here, we are always looked after very well, there are great activities and, of course, the cars are also very impressive.

What exactly happens during a sports car tour?

Heide Janik: There are different destinations every year, and children can choose “their” cars themselves. The moment when the cars start is always impressive, even for us adults. Thankfully, the police always help to make the day magical by giving us right of way on the road. And then off we go. 

What happens with the money that PALFINGER donates annually to Salzburg Cancer Aid?

Claudia Kopp: The money is not earmarked for a specific purpose, but it is extremely important for us and goes exactly where it is needed most. Post-treatment care in particular is becoming more and more important because, thank goodness, more and more children are surviving the disease. Consequently, more and more resources are needed here.

Heide Janik, after so many years of the sports car tour, what is your conclusion?

Heide Janik: In addition to all the attractions for children, PALFINGER products also impress me every year with their capabilities. Especially the ones operated by remote control and the access platforms, which take you high up into the sky! I have also followed PALFINGER's development over the years — from a family business to today's global technology company — and got to know the Palfinger family and the executive board.

Shifting up a gear — The future of Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid

Following 30 years as chairwoman, Heide Janik recently handed over the position to Claudia Kopp: “The recipe for success of Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid is that we all are, or were, parents of children with cancer. I also came to Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid due to my son's illness. I was standing at the Sonneninsel, completely devastated and suddenly Heide Janik stood there and simply asked, ‘How can I help?’. She was the anchor, the contact with the outside world. Although it was a terrible time for us, we really enjoyed the sunshine unit. Heide Janik has really done great things here.”

Many thanks for the insight. What is the next objective for Salzburg Children's Cancer Aid?

Claudia Kopp: We already have a busy program for our children and families and are constantly developing it. We have introduced evaluation measures so that we can substantiate our feelings more strongly with facts. What we are also working intensively on is the Sonneninsel because it costs a lot of money to put it on a solid economic footing and to make it even better known. The topic of cancer in children often causes fear of contact, but there is no need to be afraid. Our stated goal is to make the Sonneninsel financially independent.

How do you see partnerships such as those with PALFINGER during your term of office? What do you wish for it?
Claudia Kopp: Above all, I would like it to continue. On the one hand, financial support is of course extremely important. On the other hand, it is such a special day for the children, which for many is on the same level as Christmas and Easter. What is more, PALFINGER is such a well-known company and also involves us in their communication. Visibility and awareness are the most important things for our projects so that we are supported by as many people as possible and can help as many children as possible.