In the course of a modest ceremony held on 14 October 2010, His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Karolos Papoulias opened the "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA Children's Oncology Unit", His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece performed the blessing of the building complex and "ELPIDA", The Association of Friends of Children with Cancer fulfilled the promise it made to the Greek people to build the first state-of-the-art oncology hospital for children in Greece.
The President of the Association and UNESCO Good Will Ambassador, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis could barely conceal her emotion when she addressed those present, saying: "Three years ago, in April 2007, in this space which was then a plot of land, laying the foundation stone for the first Oncology Hospital for Children in our country we made a promise: that we would do everything within our power to have this hospital built and in operation in the shortest possible space of time, a hospital that for many children would constitute their only hope for life. It is with particular emotion today, on behalf of "ELPIDA", that I turn it over, equipped and ready, to the parents and the children who need it. As I promised. It is my fervent wish that the hospital becomes, for all the children who cross its threshold, a stepping-stone to victory and I promise them that they will always find us at their side in their most difficult fight, the fight for life… As of today our country becomes stronger in the battle against cancer. Because today we are handing over to our homeland's new generation and the generations to come, a state-of-the-art pediatric oncology unit, 14,911 square meters, 5 buildings and with a capacity of 138 beds, with the most up-to-date infrastructure, with the most cutting-edge equipment that science and technology have to offer and with the most experienced medical staff. A place that will become a true bastion for all those children who will need to fight for their life in it…"
With a warm round of applause, leading figures from the worlds of literature and the arts, scientists, ministers and former ministers, members of Parliament, ambassadors, distinguished members of the business and social community, donors and friends as well as the members of the Association, representatives of the mass media, children who have been cured and their parents and many others who were there reiterated the "ELPIDA" Association's deepest "credo" that: The life of just one child is worth fighting for!
The Minister of Health, Nutrition and Sports, Mr. Andreas Loverdos , was the first to address a warm greeting to those assembled: "Instead of congratulations," said Mr. Loverdoz, addressing Mrs. Vardinoyannis, "we owe you recognition, since all the cost and the efforts were yours… With your magnificent example you invite us to overcome the weaknesses we have as a State and to support this work by providing high level health services and we will do so…"
As Deputy Minister for Education, Mrs. Fofi Gennimata, also extended warm greetings, pointing out that: "In the difficult circumstances in which our country finds itself, you, Mrs. Vardinoyannis, are handing over to the State a diamond, which is a model for all Europe. A jewel that will be able to give hope… Today is a day of joy and emotion… But nothing would have happened were it not for the guiding spirit - Mrs. Marianna Vardinogiannis - who mobilized and inspired everyone to support this work…"
Finally, Mr. Emmanouil Papasavas, Director of the "Aghia Sophia" Children's Hospital, of which the "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA Children's Oncololgy Unit will form part both administratively and operationally, declared: "Since 1993 Mrs. Vardinoyannis and the "ELPIDA" Association have engaged in a dynamic battle to restore the health of children who suffer from cancer and today they are turning over to us this edifice that is magnificent in every respect… I promise that I personally as well as the entire medical and nursing staff will make the most of it. For one more time I would like to thank Mrs. Vardinoyannis for her selfless contribution to suffering children but also the fact that she herself contributed financially to covering a large part of the cost of building the unit as well as the cost of supplies and installation of the medical-technological equipment…"
After the blessing and the cutting of the inauguration ribbon those present were taken on a guided tour of the new hospital where they had the opportunity to ascertain for themselves what Mrs. Vardinoyannis had emphasized in her talk a short time before: "… our criterion in planning the hospital was the most modern scientific specifications and our basic concern the protection of the sensitive childhood soul. So, in the hospital, the children's journey towards their cure becomes a childhood voyage. Every building is a different continent. Every one of its corners a different country. With paintings and images of monuments and child-friendly figures, we attempt a fairy tale that looks for ways to keep a smile on their lips even in their darkest hours. This aesthetic approach and the way it is rendered in the various areas of the hospital is considered a global first and as far as we know there is nothing like it in the whole of Europe…"
Flattering comments, congratulations and good wishes sealed this special day as the guests took their leave and once again Mrs. Vardinoyannis found the opportunity to thank them for their backing and support of the work of "ELPIDA" which completed 20 years of action this year.
The official guests to the opening of the "MARIANNA V. VARDINOYANNIS-ELPIDA Children's Oncology Unit" were greeted by Mr. Vardis Vardinoyannis and his wife Marianna, while in order to be present at the inauguration the former First Lady of France Mme Anne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing, Professor David Khayat and his wife and Professor Andreas Tzakis arrived from France and the United States.
Also attending the event were the wife of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Ada Papandreou, and the wife of the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Georgia Samara, Ministers Giorgos Petalotis, Andreas Loverdos, Yannis Ragoussis, Ioannis Diamantidis, Marilisa Xenogianakopoulou, Louka Katseli, Christos Papoutsis, Deputy Ministers Fofi Gennimata, Panagiotis Beglitis, Nikos Sifounakis, Under-Ministers Milena Apostolaki, Vassilis Kegkeroglou, Anna Dalara with her husband Giorgos Dalaras, Christos Aidonis, Manolis Othonas, Michalis Timosidis, the representative of the New Democracy Party Marios Salmas and the President of L.A.O.S. (People's Orthodox Rally) Mr. Giorgos Karatzaferis, the Mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis, Members of Parliament Dimitris Sioufas, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Dora Bakogianni, Miltiadis Papaioanou, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Christos Protopapas, Athanasios Tsouras, Olga Kefalogianni and Akis Tsochatzopoulos, the General Secretary of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic Constantinos Georgiou, their excellencies the ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Egypt, Albania, France, Germany, Japan, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sweden, Syria and Child, academicians Christos Zerefos, Constantinos Stefanis, Grigoris Skalkeas, the Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, "Aghia Sophia" Children's Hospital Dr. Stelios Grafakos, the Governor of the "Aglaia Kyriakou" Children's Hospital Athanassios Binis, the honorary members of the "ELPIDA" Association Irene Athanassiadou, Kostas Gitonas, Eleni Bistika, Fani Palli-Petralia and Katy Sioufa, the donoros Spyros Metaxas and his daughter Laura Metaxa, Pavlos Ioannidis and his wife, representing the "Alexander S. Onassis" Foundation, Andreas Martinis, President of the Red Cross, Michalis Sallas and his wife Sofia Staikou, Ilias Tsigkas, president of Mega Channel, Polly Gioti, Leonidas Bobolas, Andronike Galliaki, Irene Zegkini and Theodora Symvoulidou.
Also present were famous members of the show business community: Nana Mouschouri with her husband Andre Chapelle, the Messenger of "ELPIDA" Sakis Rouvas and his wife Katia Zygouli, Nonika Galinea, Despina Vandi et al. Representing the world of publishing were Nikos Hadzinikolaou with his wife Christie, Antonis Lyberis with his wife Elena and Makis Kouris with his wife Angeliki.
The Vardinoyannis family was represented by Mr. Giannis V. Vardinoyannis with his wife Melissa, Mr. Nikos V. Vardinoyannis with his wife Alexia, Mr. Giorgos I. Vardinoyannis, Mr. Demosthenes Vardinogiannis and Mr. Pavlos Vardinoyannis with his wife Gina.
The entire board of directors of "ELPIDA" was there: Eleni Samara-Konstantakatou, Ino Konstantopoulou, Katy Metaxotou, Anna Papagianni, Viki Filippou, Katy Filippidou, Katy Voutsela, Melina Daskalaki, Ioanna Gelestathi, Dina Pritsiveli, Christina Tsatsaki, Georgina Ellina, Elly Tzanetatou and Elena Charlafti as well as many members of the "ELPIDA" Association: Zeta Antsakli and her husband Aris Antsaklis, Anna Panagiotarea, Annie Petraki, Olga Tremi, Beki Stravelaki, Dimitra Filippou, Lisa Evert, Veta Tsoukala, et al.
The coordinator of the event was the Vice-President of the European Parliament Mrs. Rodi Kratsa.
On the occasion of the inauguration the Academy of Athens announced that its renowned Foundation of Medical and Biological Research which disposes of the 29 th recognized umbilical cord-placenta blood bank, offers "ELPIDA" free of charge primary hematopoietic cells for transplantation.