Former St. Jude Patient Joins First All-Civilian Mission to Space
Central New York: You recently helped raise over $75,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, not to mention in the middle of a global pandemic. Over the two days of our annual Country Cares for St. Jude Radiothon, we cried together, smiled together, and reflected together. But most importantly, we felt a sense of hope together, because every dollar donated to St. Jude provides life-saving resources and a sense of relief for families going through the most difficult time.
There are so many success stories that have come out of St. Jude since the hospital first opened its doors more than 50 years ago, and now, one of the hospital's former patients is proving that St. Jude kids can truly do anything they set their minds to.
St. Jude teamed up with NASA for the first all-civilian space flight that will happen later this year. A commercial that aired during the Super Bowl shared that Inspiration4 will have a four-person crew, with each seat symbolizing the best parts of humanity. Pilot Jared Isaacman represents Leadership, and he will be joined by three others who represent Hope, Prosperity, and Generosity.
Enter Hayley Arceneaux. At just 10 years old, she was diagnosed with bone cancer and received life-saving treatment at St. Jude. Now 29, she works as a physician assistant at the hospital that gave her a second chance at life. But it's Arceneaux's next journey as a part of Inspiration4 and as the youngest American to go to space that will take her beyond all expectations and give others fighting cancer a sense of hope.
"It’s an incredible honor to join the Inspiration4 crew. This seat represents the hope that St. Jude gave me — and continues to give families from around the world, who, like me, find hope when they walk through the doors of St. Jude," Arceneaux said on Monday when St. Jude announced she would take the seat representing Hope on Inspiration4. "When I was just 10 years old, St. Jude gave me the opportunity to grow up. Now I am fulfilling my dreams of working at the research hospital and traveling around the world. It’s incredible to be a part of this mission that is not only raising crucial funds for the lifesaving work of St. Jude but also introducing new supporters to the mission and showing cancer survivors that anything is possible."
President and CEO of ALSAC Richard C. Shadyac Jr. sung high praises for Arceneaux in a press release from St. Jude on Monday.
"It has been a personal honor to watch Hayley grow up and fulfill her dreams. As a patient, an intern at ALSAC, and then in the Pediatric Oncology Education program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she was always a rising star," Shayac said. "From the beginning, St. Jude has been at the forefront of innovation and inclusion, leading in cancer research, and treatment for some of the world’s sickest children regardless of race, ethnicity, or a family's ability to pay, so that children like Hayley can live full, healthy and awe-inspiring lives. She will be an incredible ambassador through this mission and inspiration to children fighting cancer and survivors worldwide."
Pilot Isaacman donated two of the seats on Inspiration4 to St. Jude, and he said even in the early stages of working with Arceneaux for their upcoming mission, she embodies everything he hoped the spots would.
"Assembling a unique and diverse crew whose personal stories and values will inspire people everywhere is at the heart of the Inspiration4 mission," Isaacman said. "As I’ve spent time with Hayley in the earliest days of mission prep, she’s everything we want our team to represent — she’s interested in the world around her, devoted to caring for others and hopeful for a better future for all of us. She already inspires me, and I’m certain she’ll inspire many others as they get to know her in the course of our mission."
While Arceneaux and Isaacman undergo commercial astronaut training, the mission is still waiting on two more people to fill its Prosperity and Generosity spots. NASA and St. Jude have not announced who will fill the two seats, but anyone who donates $10 or more to St. Jude by February 28 will be entered to win a spot in the Generosity chair on Inspiration4. The seat representing Prosperity on Inspiration4 will be awarded to a deserving entrepreneur who utilizes the new Shift4Shop eCommerce platform to submit their idea and be selected by a panel of judges.
Meet the Patients of St. Jude