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St. Jude EPIC Challenge blasts off, inspiring students to reach for the stars to help others

MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 22, 2021 -- 3, 2, 1 … we have liftoff of an extraordinary, even EPIC, opportunity for students across the country to participate in the historic Inspiration4 all-civilian mission to space while supporting a lifesaving mission right here on Earth—that of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: Finding cures. Saving children.®

Now through Aug. 1, kids in grades 2-5 along with their teachers and parents can embark on the St. Jude EPIC Challenge and sign up for the Inspiration4 St. Jude Science Fair. It is a virtual event celebrating the innovation generated by students, whether they are creating in their homes or collaborating as a team at their schools.

Students who sign up for this Earth-bound mission are automatically entered for a chance to win exclusive invitations to participate in once-in-a-lifetime Inspiration4 launch experiences. The crew of this history-making mission includes St. Jude cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, now a physician assistant at the hospital that saved her life; Dr. Sian Proctor of Phoenix; Christopher Sembroski of Everett, Wash.; and Mission Commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments and an accomplished pilot.

In addition to launching a new era for human space exploration, the Inspiration4 crew is encouraging every aspirational kid who dreams of going to space one day.

The St. Jude EPIC (Experimenting, Prototyping, Inventing and Creating) Challenge is an educational fundraising program that inspires students to apply their education, imagination and a whole lot of heart to flex their creative muscles and prototype a life-improving innovation for the kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

As part of the Inspiration4 St. Jude Science Fair, winners receive more than just blue ribbons and bragging rights—in addition to national recognition, awards include out-of-this-world experiences tied to the Inspiration4 mission. The top educator receives a trip for four to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the historic shuttle, and one class gets the honor of filling a time capsule that will be sent into space, becoming part of history just like the Inspiration4 mission.

"At the heart of the Inspiration4 all-civilian mission to space is the bold goal to not just take scientific advancement to new frontiers in space but to make progress here on Earth for kids around the globe facing cancer and other life-threatening diseases, which has been the mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital since our founding," said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Similarly, at the heart of the St. Jude EPIC Challenge is the promise we as parents and educators make to our children to help them grow, expand their minds, demonstrate transformative kindness and support them in their endeavors."

As students research, design, and create their idea to help sick children, they will also support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by promoting their concepts to family and friends via email and social media by tagging @StJude and using the hashtag #StJudeBeEpic. Loved ones can show their support of the ideas by making a donation to St. Jude.

Along the way, St. Jude Education Ambassadors and STEMfluencers will offer messages of encouragement. These educators and self-professed geeks live to share the wonders of science and engineering with people of all ages.

Several space-themed extras make this virtual event one-of-a-kind, down to the panel of judges, who will be revealed this summer. In addition to the national achievement awards, students can earn incentives and giveaways along their EPIC journey, including:

  • Collectible St. Jude EPIC Challenge pins
  • Limited-edition items such as a rocket lava lamp, a VR headset and telescope
  • A 15-minute virtual Q&A with Inspiration4 crew post-flight (up to five classrooms can earn this)
  • A personalized 15-second video message recorded in space
  • A trip for two to an Inspiration4 launch party (held off-site)

Thanks to community support through programs like this one, 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 for information on how to participate in the Inspiration4 St. Jude Science Fair. To get started, there is a host of online resources available to teachers, parents and students to encourage collaboration, innovation and ingenuity.

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, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.

SOURCE ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

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