SMSU Love Your Melon Crew Raising Awareness and Support for Kids Battling Cancer

Published Friday, December 09, 2016

One of SMSU’s newest campus groups is part of a nationwide effort to spread awareness of childhood cancer and support kids fighting the disease. The SMSU Love Your Melon Campus Crew began just over a year ago, in October 2015.

Jenna Christianson, current Love Your Melon Crew president, was the driving force in starting the group, with help from the rest of the crew. The group currently has 16 student members.

Love Your Melon is a non-profit organization that focuses on raising awareness and support for kids fighting childhood cancer. Beanies, caps, scarves and other items that feature the Love Your Melon (LYM) logo can be purchased online. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to other non-profit organizations that fight pediatric cancer.

LYM was started in 2012 by two students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., for an entrepreneurship class. Since then, LYM has donated over 1.5 million dollars to fighting childhood cancer. LYM “crews” are forming at colleges and universities across the U.S. so students can personally represent the effort and support kids fighting cancer.

The LYM Campus Crew earns “credits” when someone purchases an item from the LYM online store and mentions SMSU at checkout. The crew earns various rewards as they reach milestone credit levels. “We just hit the 250 credit mark, so we earned supplies to do a small event,” said Erin O’Brien, a SMSU student and LYM crew member.

To raise awareness, the crew participates in various awareness projects, or “challenges,” each week and larger challenges throughout the year. The crew also has superhero costumes that they use in different ways to spread the LYM message and to cheer up kids fighting cancer.

One of their busiest days was Cyber Monday this year, with challenges starting at midnight and lasting throughout the day. “One challenge was to ‘light up the night,’ so we all brought friends and Mohammed Faqhi took our group picture in downtown Marshall.” O’Brien said. “It was freezing cold and raining, so lots of people asked us what we were doing. We were able to talk about LYM with several people.”

The crew is currently in a “Celebrity Challenge.” O’Brien explained, “Each crew contacts celebrities to ask for their support. When they agree, we send them a hat to wear, and they use social media to help spread the message.” As the crew completes challenges, they earn various promotional materials such as bracelets and apparel.

The SMSU LYM crew is close to formal approval as a campus group, and once that is achieved they hope to do more tabling activities on campus to engage with students. 

The crew is also looking forward to the opportunity to do a hospital visit. Depending on location and need, crews will be able to dress up in their superhero costumes to visit children fighting cancer in hospitals. The crews give children LYM hats and spend time with them to brighten their day.

The SMSU LYM crew has been able to visit a little boy named Aiden, from Brewster, Minn., who is battling a Glioma Grade 2 tumor on his brain. “We gave him a hat and spent time with him, just to cheer him up and support him in his fight,” said O’Brien.

SMSU’s crew includes students from a variety of majors, but a large portion of the members are education majors. “I think that is partly because a lot of education majors have a connection with kids, so fighting childhood cancer is something a lot of us feel very strongly about,” O’Brien said.

“I know a lot of people, specifically my grandma, who have faced cancer. It made me want to help the children going through it,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see them go through chemo, and it is tough on adults. I want to help find a cure so kids don’t have face that.”

The LYM crew encourages everyone to visit the store at www.loveyourmelon.com and mention SMSU at checkout.

Students interested in applying to join the LYM crew can email Jenna Christianson, crew president, at Jenna.Christianson@my.smsu.edu.

To follow the crew’s activities, find them on social media at Southwest Minnesota State University Love Your Melon Campus Crew on Facebook, SmsuLYMCrew on Twitter, and smsulymcrew on Instagram.