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UWRF campus group sells hats to help children battling cancer

Falcon News Service

March 30, 2016

A new student organization at UW-River Falls is selling hats and lending a hand in the search for a cure for cancer.

UWRF’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew has been making a difference in the lives of children with cancer. Campus Crews all around the country go to local hospitals dressed up as superheroes, such as Batman, to put a hat on the head of those children battling the deadly disease.

The idea of Love Your Melon has been around since October 2012. Brian Keller and Zachary Quinn, two business students in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, wanted to improve the lives of children battling cancer, according to Julie Kilian, the secretary of UWRF’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew.

Keller and Quinn had an incredible experience by spending time with the children and giving Love Your Melon hats to them, according to their website, loveyourmelon.com. The experience led to the Love Your Melon brand expanding into 763 schools in all 50 states.

The Love Your Melon movement made its way to UWRF in August, according to junior Lindsey Knopps, the captain of UWRF’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew.

“We have 20 Campus Crew members and about 85 people on our volunteer list,” Knopps said.

The difference between a member and a volunteer is that only the 20 members are allowed to go to the donation events and into the hospitals due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Love Your Melon does not want to overwhelm the children with too many people. The volunteers get to help out with on-campus events and activities like Feed My Starving Children.

Along with the hospital visits and the volunteer opportunities, the Campus Crew sells hats and other apparel. When a sale happens, 50 percent of that sale goes to CureSearch and the Pinky Swear Foundation. CureSearch is a non-profit organization that works to end childhood cancer. The Pinky Swear Foundation helps children with cancer and their families by providing basic needs and unique family programs.

For only being around since August, UWRF’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew has established itself as one of the top-selling crews in the Central Region and the nation. The UWRF crew sold more than 1,700 Love Your Melon products, which was good for second place in the Central Region and 15th in the nation. To put UWRF’s Campus Crew’s success in perspective, it has had more sales than the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa.

“For our first on-campus sales event, we had a line that went out of the University Center and we sold out within 30 minutes to an hour,” Knopps said.

Since there are over 11,000 Campus Crew members in the U.S., Love Your Melon has stopped the on-campus sales events to transition to telling people to go online to purchase the products, according to Knopps.

For Knopps and Kilian, their favorite aspect of being a part of the Campus Crew is going to the hospitals dressed up as superheroes to spend time with the children.

“We dress up as superheroes because the children are our superheroes for going through what they go through,” Kilian said. “We want to be able to be their superheroes and brighten their day.”

The little things that Knopps, Kilian and the Campus Crew do mean the most to the children.

“It is so emotional because I go through an array of emotions when I am visiting the children,” Knopps said. “I see them and I see what they are going through and my heart just breaks because I can’t even imagine everything that they have to go through.”

For students who want to get involved with UWRF’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew, Knopps and Kilian said that students can request to be put on an email list, they can like the group’s Facebook page, or they can talk to the Campus Crew at the University Center.