Childhood Cancer Awareness Month blasts off in an unforgettable way for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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Pictured is Dr. Ching-Hon Pui greeting St. Jude patient Maelin-Kate in 2019. Credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 1, 2021) – During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, witness how the sky is no limit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. St. Jude physician assistant and pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux will launch into space on the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit called Inspiration4 on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Communities, celebrities and influencers everywhere will also team up for virtual St. Jude Walk/Run on Sept. 25. 

More than 60 celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Luis Fonsi, Rita Ora, Ashley Tisdale, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ellie Kemper, Anthony Hamilton, Lucy Hale, Lily Aldridge, JoJo Siwa, Willie Geist, Ashley McBryde, Scotty McCreery, Ashley Green, The Brothers Osborne, Shaun White and Doug the Pug will unite throughout September to help cure childhood cancer. They will show their love for St. Jude on social mediaand rally fans to support the cause using the hashtags #30DaysForStJude and #ShowYourGold to raiseawareness and support for the lifesaving mission of St. Jude: Finding cures. Saving children.®

Support of this nature is rooted in the DNA of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Its founder, Danny Thomas – the late acclaimed entertainer and humanitarian – sought support from his Hollywood connections more than 60 years ago to make his dream of building St. Jude to cure childhood cancer a reality. 

Why this matters

Defeating childhood cancer is not a solo endeavor. In 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimedSeptember as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, which remains the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 14.

St. Jude recently announced its record $11.5 billion, six-year strategic plan to accelerate research on pediatric cancer and devastating childhood diseases and save children all over the world. Campaigns and events like Inspiration4 and the St. Jude Walk/Run are designed to celebrate St. Jude achievements while inspiring supporters to keep the momentum as fundraisers because St. Jude won’t stop until no child dies of cancer.

Fighting cancer with a samurai spirit

Some of Arceneaux’s biggest fans include St. Jude patient families and colleagues in Memphis who hail from more than 100 countries, including her attending St. Jude physician Dr. Hiroto Inaba from Japan. He “fights leukemia with the samurai spirit,” coining that phrase because he is a 17th generation samurai. 

Dr. Inaba moved to Memphis with the intention of only working for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a couple years before returning home to the Kii Mountains. He fell in love with his St. Jude family and applies many of the virtues historically admired by the samurai to his clinical practice, including courage, honesty, benevolence and what he calls “the good fight.” He fights cancer for his patients alongside his fellow researchers and clinicians by using new tools and sharing insights aimed to increase survival rates. He respects Arceneaux because they share a similar passion for St. Jude and making a difference for others.

Pictured is Dr. Hiroto Inaba with St. Jude patient Hadley in 2018. Credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

“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,” said Dr. Inaba. “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.”

Visit St. Jude Progress to learn more about Dr. Inaba’s journey to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and current work as principal investigator for the Total Therapy 17 clinical trial. While the two “17s” previously mentioned are a coincidence, his heritage and work have much in common.

Moving the needle on childhood cancer

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. As part of its strategic plan, St. Jude has tripled its global investment to impact more than 400,000 kids with cancer around the world each year; kids who rely on the emerging collaboration and investments of St. Jude, the World Health Organization, and a coalition of international partners as their lifeline.

Take, for example, St. Jude Oncology Chair Dr. Ching-Hon Pui who is helping to expand and accelerate progress on cancer research and treatment through a number of international collaborations in China. Most recently, the results of a clinical trial proved it is safe to remove some of the therapies for children with low-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia to substantially reduce some of the long-term side effects of treatment.

How to get involved

St. Jude Walk/Run

The St. Jude Walk/Run will be virtual only on Sept. 25. Visit stjude.org/inspiration4 and stjude.org/walkrun to get involved. Participants are encouraged to download the St. Jude Walk/Run mobile app in the Apple app store and on Google Play

St. Jude Inspire Podcast

St. Jude supporters and space enthusiasts can take a deep dive into the lives of the crew on Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit, by listening to the St. Jude: Mission of a Lifetime podcast. This podcast series will introduce the world to each crew member, document their journeys in space and feature exclusive content. Listeners can download the podcast via Apple, Google, Spotify and Amazon Music.

Auction

Visit Charitybuzz for ongoing auctions, offering Inspiration4-themed auction packages, including a fighter jet experience, a personalized video message from space and an invitation to Romero Britto’s virtual art party.Britto’s support for St. Jude will include finishing a live painting for auction during the Inspiration4 official launch event at a private hangar on Sept. 14; creating an Inspiration4 coloring book that crew members will complete in space to be auctioned after the mission; and offering a virtual paint party to select auction winners later this fall with proceeds benefiting St. Jude.

Fundraising challenge for animal lovers

The PAWS for St. Jude fundraising campaign also extends through September. Owners of all dogs, from huskies to shelties, beagles to poodles and every breed in between are encouraged to grab their leashes and take their pooches out for a daily activity and capture the cute puppy poses, water play, ball catches and head tilts for social media to rally friends and family members to donate. Photos and video using the hashtag #PAWSforStJude will be featured on St. Jude social media channels. At the conclusion of the competition, the top fundraising dogs will receive St. Jude bandanas.

Fundraising challenge for students

High school and college students are welcome to join the St. Jude Advance Network, which inspires, guides and unites participants via an online community that provides access to networking opportunities and national fundraising challenges with incentives through May 2022. This campaign is designed to offer supporters a way to make a lasting impact on children everywhere.

Social media campaign

Visit stjude.org/together to learn more about how St. Jude is treating and defeating childhood cancer. Then,post a photo on social media using the hashtag #ShowYourGold on September 9 to raise awareness during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The color gold is associated with childhood cancer.

Netflix documentary on Inspiration4

Look for a Netflix documentary series called Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space. Watch the trailer about this first-ever Netflix series to cover an event in near real-time. The series will run in four parts.

• Sept. 6: Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, episodes 1-2 premiere

• Sept.13: Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, episodes 3-4 premiere 

• Sept.15: Targeted launch of the Inspiration4 mission 

• End of September: Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space feature-length finale

This ambitious, quick-turnaround series will take viewers behind the scenes with the Inspiration4 crew – from their unconventional selection and intensive months-long commercial astronaut training, through the intimate and emotional moments leading up to liftoff. The final episode, which premieres just days after the mission is completed, will feature unprecedented access inside the spacecraft capturing the launch and the crew’s journey to space, as well as their return home to Earth. Creators of the series include TIME Studios, Known, and producer Connor Schell, along with director Jason Hehir and the team behind The Last Dance

Partners with purpose

Because of community support, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

Special thanks to the dozens of corporate partners that are sponsoring this year’s Childhood Cancer Awareness month initiatives for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, including: Chili’s, AmazonSmile, ARS/Rescue Rooter, Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS), Shaw Floors, Microsoft, Kmart, Sears, CBS Sports, Five Below, Varsity Brands, DXL Big + Tall, eBay, Shoe Carnival, Denny’s, Monster Jam, Coldwell Banker, Publishers Clearing House, My Salon Suites, Coton Colors, Bahama Buck’s, Maglite, HomeTown Lenders, Chair King Backyard Store, Tornado Bus Company, Gunnar Optiks, SendAFriend and Hari Mari. Current St. Jude supporters, Amazon, Window World and Marcum Foundation have been named the national sponsors for the 2021 St. Jude Walk/Run. The St. Jude #ShowYourGold campaign is brought to you by Five Below.

About Inspiration4

Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit scheduled on Sept. 15. Commander Jared Isaacman selected St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as its beneficiary and committed $100 million to St. Jude to inspire others to raise an additional $100 million to accelerate research on devastating childhood diseases and save children all over the world. Isaacman donated two seats to St. Jude, one of which will be occupied by 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, pediatric cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude. Arceneaux will represent the pillar of Hope. The four crew members, including Isaacman and Arceneaux, will board the Falcon 9 launch vehicle at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and orbit the Earth for multiple days on the Dragon spacecraft, before they return to Earth with a smooth water landing.

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on TwitterInstagram and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.

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