April 20, 2016
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
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
And that’s exactly what the chapter did for Georgia, her parents
“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
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
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
“It’s a relief that I was very well prepared at the Mount,”