UNT’s Love Your Melon aides in cancer research and awareness

UNT’s Love Your Melon aides in cancer research and awareness

Seniors Sonja Pizzini (left) and Jenna Erben (right) model hats from their organization Love your Melon, here at UNT. Their organization's goal is to raise awareness about pediatric cancer and raise money for research. Katie Jenkins

UNT’s Love Your Melon aides in cancer research and awareness
October 10
13:32 2016

Love Your Melon began as a simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. The organization, founded at the University of St. Thomas, was an entrepreneurship class project created by two students who wanted to develop their own business. LYM has since graduated to become a national organization, with one of it’s recent chapters, comprised of 11 UNT students, making a start in Denton.

Captained by biology senior Austin Hendren, the UNT chapter of the business made it onto campus after Hendren saw one of the the LYM products on the Instagram of one of her friends at Texas Tech University. Shortly after, she decided to put together a “campus crew” of her own. 

“As a crew, our goal is to just create a little piece of happiness for the children and get their mind off the treatments that they may be undergoing,” Hendren said.

Once enough credits are earned, crews are allowed to expand their numbers in the organization and take on events like household donations. With household donations, the crew gets assigned a family to donate LYM time, resources and products to in an attempt to alleviate stress from the family going through pediatric cancer treatment.

“The household donation events are just to get the childrens’ minds off of the treatments they may be battling with at the time and just to therapeutically help them through this journey of battling cancer and overcoming something that has latched onto them that they didn’t even see coming,” Hendren said. 

The Campus Crew program has reached over 11,000 members nationwide at 736 different educational institutions. The LYM website says that the organization as a whole has donated over 75,000 hats and raised over $1.1 million to go to their partners in pediatric cancer research, including organizations like CureSearch and the Pinky Swear FoundationHalf of all net proceeds are donated to nonprofit LYM, in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Prices for products range from $5 for a LYM kookie to $215 for a cashmere baseball cap. Beanies, one of their most popular products, are $30.

September is pediatric cancer awareness month, and, Hendren said, the organization spent time spreading awareness and handing out fliers to help bring attention to the issue of early-childhood cancer.

two differently styled hats made by the organization Love Your Melon. They are a national non-profit group, with a chapter here at UNT, whose goal to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. Katie Jenkins

Two differently styled hats made by the organization Love Your Melon sit on a table. Love Your Melon is a national non-profit group with a goal to raise awareness about pediatric cancer that has a chapter at UNT.  Katie Jenkins

Hendren said that last year the organization sold about 175 products and this semester, they have sold 19. She and her crew set goals for the organization to reach, like getting social media traffic to their Facebook page and the organization’s websites, as well as reaching enough credits to do housing donations and hospital donations. 

Jenna Erben, a speech pathology and audiology senior, and Sonja Pizzini, a biology and spanish senior, are two of the 11 members in the organization who help to spread awareness toward pediatric cancer, and to sell LYM products.

Pizzini got involved with the group after meeting Hendren on a study abroad trip to Costa Rica last year. After learning about the organization, she joined their crew and has been helping ever since.

“When we’re out here raising awareness and money for [pediatric cancer], we know that helps, but then actually getting to be there to see how it’s affecting people, I think that’s the best part,” Pizzini said.

Erben said that one of the goals they are currently working towards is becoming a formally recognized organization on campus.

The organization is currently allowed up to 20 members and Hendren said that they are looking to expand. Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer, where one out of eight will not survive, according to CureSearch.org. Erben is looking to help curb those numbers with her involvement with LYM, and she said being able to help out is a reward all it’s own.  

“Just getting to see a kid smile when you give him the hat is awesome,” Erben said. “And it also just lets them know they’re not alone. They have an army of people cheering them on and helping them through it.”

Featured Image: Seniors Sonja Pizzini (left) and Jenna Erben (right) model hats from their organization Love your Melon, here at UNT. Their organization’s goal is to raise awareness about pediatric cancer and raise money for research. Katie Jenkins

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Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

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