St. Jude Immortalizes Child Cancer Patients As 60-Foot Interactive Statues Using VR
Hall of Heroes highlights the bravery of St. Jude patients with an awe-inspiring VR museum.
When it comes to the fight against childhood cancer, very few organizations provide the same level of support to children than the amazing human beings over at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer center dedicated entirely to children, St. Jude is responsible for treatments that have increased the childhood cancer survival rate from a dismal 20% to an astonishing 80%. Over the 50 years the hospital has been in operation, not a single family has received a bill, whether it be for treatment, housing, food, or even travel.
Dedicated to the complete eradication of cancer-related childhood deaths, St. Jude recently teamed up with Facebook, creative agency BBDO New York, and immersive developer Flight School on an interactive VR experience designed to honor the immense bravery of past St. Jude patients and raise additional funding and awareness for cancer research.
“The rapid acceleration of VR technology allows for the exciting reimagination of the way we tell stories, connect with communities, raise funds and drive fundamental change,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC — the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — in an official release. “For the past 50 years, the modernization of science and research technologies have enabled St. Jude to fund and advance cures for pediatric life-threatening diseases. St. Jude Hall of Heroes is inspired by that spirit of leading-edge change and puts the focus on the real heroes among us, our brave St. Jude patients.”
Available now via Facebook as a 360 video and December 6th on Oculus Quest as an interactive demo, Hall of Heroes takes users across a variety of colorful floating islands, each of which featuring 60-foot statues of real-life St. Judes patients. Users can walk directly up to the towering figures to hear more about each of their battles as well as learn more about their personal lives and interests straight from the patients and their families. Partnering with 3D artists, the team designed individual statues for each child relating to their respective battles with cancer. The end result is nothing short of inspirational.
“We’ve only just begun to explore the creative potential of VR – to share stories, to build worlds, and connect people,” added Eric Oldrin, Director of Emerging Platforms at Facebook. “St Jude Hall of Heroes does all three in a celebration of bravery that we hope inspires people to support their cause – but also to continue this uncharted journey of creativity through virtual reality.”
“This is a great example of using the immersion of VR to connect with people on a deeper level. Expect your Oculus lenses to flood with tears,” said Tom Markham, Executive Creative Director at BBDO New York.
As previously stated, the Hall of Heroes experience is currently available as a non-interactive 360 video on Facebook. Users can listen to the stories of each survivor via narration provided by actor Patrick Warburton (Family Guy, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.); a fully interactive demo will be available on Oculus Quest headsets at select Best Buy stores beginning December 6th, followed by a full release via Oculus TV in early 2020. In addition to the VR experience, there’s also a Facebook and Instagram AR lens that allows you to place statues throughout various real-world locations and pose alongside the heroes themselves.
If you’d like to support the incredible work being done at St. Jude, consider making a small donation over at stjude.org. You can also shop at participating businesses or make a donation at the register; the St. Jude website has a complete list of affiliated partners.
Feature Image Credit: St. Jude, Facebook, BBDO New York, Flight School