At first glance, Belmont University senior Sydne Richardson seems like any other college student, but few know she is the founder and organizer of the Love Your Melon organization at Belmont University.
Love Your Melon, an apparel brand with 761 crews across 50 states, has a mission to give a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as to support nonprofit organizations leading the fight against pediatric cancer.
The backbone of Love Your Melon is the campus crews the organization implements all over the nation. These crews are made up of students determined to improve the lives of children battling cancer and to carry out the organization’s mission on the various campuses they reside in.
“I wanted to start a crew at Belmont because there isn’t an organization like it here at all,” said Richardson.
Richardson’s mission in bringing Love Your Melon to Belmont was not only to diversify the student organization atmosphere but also for reasons that hit very close to home.
During Richardson’s sophomore year of college, her aunt was diagnosed with two different types of breast cancer. Throughout the year, Richardson and her family spent time taking care of her aunt.
“I remember right before my aunt started her chemo, she bought beanies for my whole family so we could all wear them when we went to take her to treatment, so we could all look the same. I thought it was really neat,” said Richardson.
Later on, when Richardson came across the organization Love Your Melon, she was reminded of what her aunt did and how much of an impact it made.
“It made me think of my aunt and how she bought the beanies because she was insecure about going through chemo, so I can only imagine what a child is going through,” said Richardson.
Because of this, Richardson began the process of getting Love Your Melon affiliated with Belmont during the fall semester of her junior year.
“I remember going to the Bruin Link Fair pretty fresh off getting our official recognition, being blown away by how many people were interested,” said Richardson. “Around 200 people signed up, and I could only take 20 — not including the few members I had with me from the beginning, so I was a little overwhelmed.”
Due to interest, Richardson was allowed to pick students who shared her strong passion for the organization and its work. One of these students was Elizabeth Myers, a Belmont sophomore and the vice captain of Love Your Melon.
“I wanted to help start a LYM crew here because pediatric cancer is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I wanted to be able to do something to help. LYM gives college students the ability to bring hope to people who are fighting one of the toughest battles they will ever face,” said Myers.
Throughout the year, Love Your Melon has held convocations on campus, set up raffle booths to promote the company and made visits to hospitals and children across Nashville.
“As an organization, we have met with kids battling cancer and delivered them beanies, reached out to friends and family to share the word about Love Your Melon and have contributed to the fight to find a cure for cancer, which is a really rewarding thing,” said Love Your Melon public relations manager Megan Garrett.
While Love Your Melon might be one of the newer organizations affiliated with Belmont, its reach has extended past its own members, employing other student organizations on its mission.
“We have had the opportunity to go meet a little superhero at her cheerleading gym. We brought some of the Belmont cheer team with us, and they got to cheer with her team and watch as they showed off some of their own routines,” said Myers. “We were able to bring her and her family Love Your Melon beanies and Belmont sent some cheer apparel for her.”
While Love Your Melon at Belmont is still growing and developing as an organization, Richardson and her crew are determined to make a difference.
“You know, I think college students need a reality check every once in awhile. I know I did,” said Richardson. “I think because of that, Love Your Melon is exactly where it needs to be right now to grow — at Belmont.”
This article was written by Cathlin Cantrell.