SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Campaign for St. Jude Surpasses $200M Fundraising Goal
Inspiration4 returned from orbit Saturday, raising millions for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the process.
A spokesperson for St. Jude confirmed the amount raised as of this morning was $222 million. Though St. Jude met its campaign goal, it will continue raising money through February 2022. Donations are being collected through Inspiration4 and St. Jude donation pages, as well as select St. Jude YouTube videos.
Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman chartered the mission with a $100 million contribution to launch the St. Jude effort. Donations have been accepted since February, but shortly after the spacecraft safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, Elon Musk — the founder of SpaceX, the company behind the space mission, tweeted he would commit $50 million to push the campaign past its goal.
Count me in for $50M
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2021
Isaacman has worked with a variety of nonprofits in the past, including his world-record holding Speed-Around-the-World flight to raise money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
The remaining spacecraft seats for Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, were delegated to a St. Jude employee, an entrepreneur who used Shift4 Payments ecommerce platform and was a donor to the campaign.
Those selected to join Isaacman included Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude; Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and pilot; and Christopher Sembroski, an aerospace engineer for Lockheed Martin and U.S. Air Force veteran who contributed to the cause.
"Today, we celebrate two extraordinary missions accomplished this weekend: The safe return of Inspiration4 to Earth and raising more than $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital," Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said in a statement. "We are especially grateful for the extraordinary generosity and leadership of Shift4 Payments CEO and Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman, and the generous commitment of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who, between them, committed $150 million to the mission of St. Jude and have helped inspire the world to rally around the cause of finding cures for childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
"We are awed by the dedication and fearlessness of Jared and the three other civilian astronauts of Inspiration4: Dr. Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski and our own Hayley Arceneaux, a St. Jude survivor and physician assistant. Their actions, and the support of our donors, have made this historic moment for mankind transformational for the children of today and tomorrow."
Arceneaux has even stronger ties to St. Jude, as she is a pediatric bone cancer survivor who received life-saving treatment there at age 10. She served as the medical officer, overseeing medical care and experiments on the mission. She became the youngest to go to space at age 29 and the first with a prosthesis — an artificial left femur that replaced the bone she lost as a child.
Filled with awe and gratitude. Yesterday we completed two missions: our successful Inspiration4 mission to space AND we surpassed our $200 million fundraising goal for @stjude. Thank you to everyone who supported both missions, I am forever grateful! Can’t stop smiling!!! pic.twitter.com/5BTQMcMAdm
— Hayley Arceneaux (@ArceneauxHayley) September 20, 2021
Inspiration4 launched from Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 15, traveled across a low earth orbit on a multi-day journey and returned to Earth on Saturday. During the mission, the crew also raised awareness and spoke to patients at St. Jude.
"Some of y'all on the call may know me as your PA,” Arceneaux said to the St. Jude patients on the video call. “I work at St. Jude. I have the best job ever. ... And now I'm adding 'astronaut' to my resume and we're so excited to tell you all about what it's like in space.”
A corresponding auction to raise additional funds for St. Jude is ongoing and will further increase the total raised from this mission. Thus far, Sam Adams committed to donating up to $100 million for 66 pounds of hops that were aboard the spacecraft. Additionally, an NFT of a Kings of Leon live performance of “Time in Disguise,” which became the first minted music NFT song to be played in space, sold for $50,000 this morning. Some items still available in auctions ending Sept. 23 include:
- Proctor’s custom Inspiration4 jacket that was flown to space.
- A mini-astronaut plush that will be delivered to the winning bidder with an original collar designed by renowned artist Romero Britto.
- Moon light autographed by retired astronauts
- The recent TIME magazine with cover story on the four crew members to be autographed by the crew.
- Inspiration4 hat autographed by William Shatner of “Star Trek.”
- “Friends” cast signed script and limited edition lithograph.
Editor's Note: This story was updated to include a new statement from Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital