(Taylor Dowse)

Taylor Dowse

Students look to establish pediatric cancer fighting organization

August 21, 2016

Twenty students at Mercer University are in the process of establishing an official crew organization for Love Your Melon (LYM), a student-run apparel brand dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer.

Haleigh Svede, a senior crew member, is one student who is a part of that initiative. She knows what it’s like to have your life touched by cancer.

“I believe that childhood cancer is something that no family should ever have to experience. Life is so beautiful and I want everyone to be able to enjoy every moment of it,” Svede said.

After losing several close relatives to the disease and watching her best friend’s family deal with the death of a child from cancer, she said that cancer really hits home with her in a lot of ways.

“I realize that being a part of LYM cannot stop childhood cancer, even though I wish it was possible. Being a part of LYM is extremely important to me, because I feel like it is helping children in all the ways that are possible,” Svede said.

The campus crew at Mercer, although not yet an established student organization, has big plans. Senior Meghan Segreti said she is in the process of setting up a meeting with Campus Life and SGA to discuss finalizing the club.

“We plan on being an official organization on campus before the first football game so that we are able to have a table of some sort to be able to advertise and kind of introduce ourselves to the school,” Segreti said through a text message.

Since the crew has not yet formally been established at the university and is therefore unauthorized to officially promote themselves as a university-affiliated club, it has been difficult for them to reach the entire student body and share LYM’s mission.

However, the crew’s public relations chair, Marisa Agganis, has looked to social media to spread the word regarding Mercer’s new crew.

“I use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but mostly Instagram to try and advertise our crew,” Agganis said. “I just follow a bunch of people, but when I post things to our page all of the crew members share stuff so then their friends see it and hopefully they continue to share it too.”

The crew is hoping that several months after piloting its various social media platforms it will have gained as much attention and support as some of the other, more established LYM crews around the state have.  

According to LYM’s website, what started as a simple idea in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, quickly flourished into a nationwide mission to help improve the lives of children battling cancer by providing every child with a LYM hat.

In addition to providing the children with hats, LYM also offers remedial entertainment by personally donating the hats to children’s homes and spending time with them during LYM Superhero Household Donation visits.

I am really excited to start being able to go into hospitals and making home visits . . . We get to dress up like superheroes and bring them beanies and just do fun stuff with them.”

— Marisa Agganis

Since its creation in 2012, LYM has expanded its outreach dramatically.

An entirely student-run organization, LYM, to date, is affiliated with more than 740 different colleges and universities across the United States.

The LYM Campus Crew Program consists of an exclusive group of students devoted to improving the lives of children fighting cancer in their individual communities.

Of the 11,000 students nationwide who participate in this cause, only the LYM-allowed 20 members make up Mercer’s crew.

Although all 20 of the official crew positions are currently filled, Segreti, along with the rest of her team, encourages anyone interested in investing their time in this cause to volunteer whenever they get the chance. The group can have as many volunteers as it wishes.

Both Segreti and Agganis said that starting the LYM campus crew has been hard work and has harbored its fair share of challenges, but they say all of the various LYM campus crews around the nation have been extremely supportive.

“We have a group on Facebook of all of the LYM executive members and everyone is just so helpful on there. A million people always answer with feedback and advice,” Agganis said. “Everyone is just so eager to help. It’s just like an awesome community of people.”

The crew has predominantly been working toward attaining its goal of accumulating at least 100 credits before the start of this semester.

Credits are awarded to the crew every time an individual purchases LYM merchandise and attributes their purchase to Mercer.

“Basically the more credits we are able to obtain, the more we are able to help the children in our community who are battling cancer,” Svede said.

Moving forward into the fall semester, the crew will have hopefully earned enough credits in order to receive the LYM package that will equip them with all of the hats and costumes necessary for their first Superhero Household Donation visit.

“I am really excited to start being able to go into hospitals and making home visits and just putting joy on the faces of the children battling cancer,” Agganis said. “That’s what I am most eager to do, and I just feel like next semester that’s going to be a lot of fun. We get to dress up like superheroes and bring them beanies and just do fun stuff with them.”

If you are interested in making a difference, go to www.loveyourmelon.com and select Mercer University at checkout.

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