St. Jude Rocketing Donors, Staff Off The Planet – Literally
St. Jude Rocketing Donors, Staff Off The Planet – Literally

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be blasting staff and donors into orbit for a three-day SpaceX mission, which has been dubbed Inspiration4. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and St Jude’s in Memphis, Tenn., is coordinating awareness and fundraising events throughout the month. 

The launch, which will be streamed live on YouTube, is currently set for either Sept. 14 or 15. It is being covered in Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, a multi-part Netflix series being aired throughout September.

The crew will include 29-year-old mission medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, who as a child was treated for bone cancer at St. Jude. A physician assistant at St. Jude, Arceneaux will be joined by commander Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Allentown, Pa.,-based Shift4 Payments, a payment processing company. As part of the fundraising effort, Isaacman committed $100 million to St. Jude.

“Hayley’s heart is as big as the galaxy, so it is no surprise that she continues to inspire the world both inside the walls of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and beyond with the work she does for children,” Hiroto Inaba, Arceneaux’s attending physician, said via a statement. “She is a brilliant physician assistant whose thankfulness for life radiates from her spirit and motivates all of us to dream big and press forward in our quest to cure childhood cancer for kids around the globe.”

Arceneaux and Isaacman will be accompanied by Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and science communicator who will serve as the mission’s pilot and mission specialist Chris Sembroski, a data engineer. The fundraising goal of the trip, including Isaacman’s donation, is an astronomical $200 million.

The launch comes at the dawn of a six-year investment plan by St. Jude, which calls for $11.5 billion, including significant donor support, earmarked for accelerating treatment and research throughout the world. The plan will fund 1,400 jobs, $1.9 billion in construction, renovation and capital needs and new research opportunities.

The launch is part of a series of fundraising and awareness efforts which effort grew out of a 2012 proclamation from then-President Barack Obama designating September National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. According to a release from St. Jude, pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children 14 and younger.