An alliance of global partners, coordinated by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC, its fundraising and awareness organization, has moved hundreds of Ukrainian children with cancer into Poland where they’re being triaged and transferred to hospitals around Europe and beyond.
But inside that triage center, a converted hotel known as the Unicorn Center, doctors and other medical personnel have been hampered by a persistent problem: unreliable Internet service, making communication between partner organizations difficult if not impossible. It also prevented Ukrainian refugees received at the center from communicating with loved ones back home.
In a matter of days, that problem was addressed through the efforts of Jared Isaacman, commander of Inspiration4, the history making all-civilian space flight last year that benefitted St. Jude. He now is commander of Polaris Dawn, a series of SpaceX missions.
The Polaris Dawn team coordinated the donation of a SpaceX Starlink, a device that provides high speed Internet via advanced satellites in low orbit. It and 4,000 pounds of medical supplies were flown to Poland on March 5 by Isaacman.
Isaacman is an ALSAC partner who, along with his wife, Monica, generously donated to St. Jude for the new, state-of-the-art Inspiration4 Advanced Research Center on the campus of St. Jude in Memphis. He was also responsible for a second flight to Poland just a few days ago, delivering more supplies and eight more Starlink units. Those units are being distributed to clinics and partner foundations throughout the region to further aid continuing efforts to move kids with cancer from Ukraine, triage them, then place them across Europe, and possibly the U.S. and St. Jude, for treatment.
Isaacman has quietly helped numerous non-profits and charitable causes as his company, Shift4Payments, has grown increasingly successful. Very often those charitable efforts combine his love of aviation — he’s an accomplished pilot — with a commitment to address intense humanitarian needs around the world. He insisted there be a charitable partner for the Inspiration4 flight last year, for example, resulting in more than $240 million in donations to St. Jude.
“If you have the ability to help, you have the responsibility to help,” Isaacman said.
Isaacman was recently named by SpaceX as commander of a series of three more space flights, including one which may enable him to take a space walk. There are plans for these missions to benefit St. Jude as well.
“Jared is an incredible leader and humanitarian who believes deeply in the power of purpose, and continually uses his work and resources to benefit the world,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC. “It was no surprise to any of us that shortly after the war began, Jared was reaching out asking to help St. Jude in any way possible. By getting the Starlink systems to Poland and beyond, he’s provided critical communication in desperate times. Because of Starlink, our global partner teams can continue sharing lifesaving medical information and families can stay connected with their loved ones when so many are now separated in terrible ways.”
For the families especially, it’s just the lifeline of communication needed.