Mount’s Love Your Melon chapter: Funding a cure one hat at a time

April 20, 2016


Members of Mount Saint Mary College’s chapter of Love Your Melon through a princess party in honor of five-year-old Georgia, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy sessions.

On a recent Sunday morning, the James Finn Cotter Villa library at Mount Saint Mary College came alive with fairytales and princesses for a little girl battling a big illness.

Five-year-old Georgia, a heart-transplant recipient who has been undergoing chemotherapy for Post-transplant Proliferative Disease, enjoyed a party thrown in her honor by the Mount’s chapter of the Love Your Melon.

Love Your Melon is a nonprofit formed to fight childhood cancer. The organization began with the idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America to help counter hair loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy. Though they began selling beanies, Love Your Melon later branched out into baseball caps, shirts, and more. About half of the proceeds are donated to two cancer charities: Cure Search and The Pinky Swear Foundation.

The Mount’s 20-member Love Your Melon chapter has sold about 300 hats and raised nearly $10,000 since its inception in January by senior and chapter president Kelsey O'Brien of New Paltz, N.Y. O’Brien noted that the more the chapter raises, the more it can brighten the lives of young cancer patients though events like princess and superhero parties.

“You can change the world in a small way and it can have a big impact,” said O’Brien. “It’s about curing cancer, but in the meantime, it’s about making the lives of children with cancer easier.”

And that’s exactly what the chapter did for Georgia, her parents said.

“Our family was introduced to the Love Your Melon mission by chance, and since that moment, our daughter Georgia has experienced first-hand the encouragement of a dedicated group of college students determined to make a true impact on the life of a child battling cancer,” said Georgia’s mother. The group “provided the most amazing day for our daughter, while at the same time, spreading awareness of their mission. The LYM ladies are truly special, and their attention to detail in providing the ultimate princess party for Georgia will forever be remembered.”

In only four short months, the Mount’s Love Your Melon chapter has partnered with other groups in the college community to help squash cancer and improve the lives of youngsters afflicted with the illness.

Recently, the chapter has been instrumental in welcoming six-year-old Joshua Winslow, a cancer survivor, to the Mount to throw the first pitch at a softball game; inviting 17-year-old Sara of the SaraStrong Foundation in Highland, N.Y. as a guest performer in a Mount improv show; and working with the women’s lacrosse team and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation to “adopt” a teenage cancer survivor as an honorary teammate. Love Your Melon also had a formidable presence at Mount’s recent Relay for Life, in which nearly 40 teams from all facets of the college raised about $34,000.

The quick rise and success of the chapter did not go unnoticed, and O’Brien was recently invited to attend a Love Your Melon leadership conference in Beaver, Utah known as “Apex Experience.” She was one of only 160 student leaders chosen from a pool of 8,000 club member throughout the United States.

O’Brien, an English major on the childhood education track, said that heading the Mount’s Love Your Melon chapter has enhanced her leadership abilities – something that, as a burgeoning teacher, she can use in the classroom.

“You can know a lot of content, but if you don’t know how to handle your class, if you don’t have a presence, you’re going to have a tough time,” she said.

O’Brien is currently student teaching at Warring Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She’s enjoying the beginning of what she thinks will be a long and fruitful career in education, she said.

“It’s a relief that I was very well prepared at the Mount,” O’Brien said.