Telescope for Isaac
The RASC and Sky-Watcher come together to grant a sick child his wish.  


“He was a healthy boy,” Irma Mendez said of her son Isaac.  However, the events of December 7, 2020, changed the lives of the Mendez family forever.  After his third Emergency hospital visit, doctors decided to send Isaac for blood work. Unfortunately, the tests revealed that Isaac Ladino, age 11, had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The horror of Isaac’s diagnosis shook his family, including three other siblings, to the core. “Isaac was a normal kid,” Irma continued. “He likes building structures, playing soccer and video games.”  Another one of Isaac’s interests was the stars and all things related to astronomy. “He has always been into the planets, the solar system and science,” she shared.  

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts in white blood cells in the bone marrow.  It develops from immature lymphocytes, a kind of white blood cell that’s key to the immune system. ALL is also known as acute lymphocytic leukemia or acute lymphoid leukemia. “Acute” means it progresses quickly. It’s a rare type of leukemia, or blood cancer, in adults but most common in children.  Acute lymphoblastic leukemia invades the blood and can spread to other organs, such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.  However, it rarely creates tumours like other types of cancers.

Isaac’s doctors immediately put him on a very aggressive treatment plan.  As a result, he and his family had to leave their home in Edmonton and move to the neighbouring Province of Saskatchewan to be closer to family support. Isaac’s treatment leaves him feeling weak and unwell for several days. 

Throughout this horror, Isaac has managed to continue his passion for science and all things related to astronomy. In mid-March of 2021, Isaac’s school teacher, Krissa Donahue from Steinhauer School in Edmonton, contacted The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  She said, “I walked alongside his family when they learned of his diagnosis and was inspired by Isaac’s strength and appreciation for life.”  Ms. Donahue shared Isaac’s wish of owning his very own telescope and his hopes of exploring space and pursuing his dream of serving our world as an astronaut.  She asked the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) to consider assisting in providing a telescope or space-related resources for Isaac.

The RASC contacted friend Jeff Simon, Director at Sky-Watcher, who immediately agreed to provide a telescope for Isaac. And just like that, “Operation Isaac’s Telescope” was underway. A Sky-Watcher EvoStar 80ED telescope, a free RASC membership and an RASC membership package were sent to Isaac’s home. 

Anticipation and excitement filled the room as Isaac’s mother called him downstairs for the big reveal. Tired from the side effects of his treatment, Isaac came down the stairs. To his surprise, there was a large box awaiting him.  Isaac opened the box, his eyes lit up, and he gasped in shock. Then, in disbelief, he looked at the unassembled telescope and, at that moment, he saw hope and endless possibilities for his future. 

Irma thanked Phil Groff, Executive Director of The RASC, and Jeff Simon, Director of Sky-Watcher, for their generosity. She stated, “The RASC and Sky-Watcher have brought Isaac so much joy during this challenging time of countless blood tests, procedures and chemotherapy treatments.”  Irma also thanked his caring teachers, Krissa Donahue and Jennifer Webb. They went over, above and beyond, to help provide the Mendes family with love, support and comfort during a very stressful and terrifying time.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is proud to have Isaac Ladino as a member.

eNews date: 
Thursday, July 15, 2021