In the hallways of the pediatric unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, one will often spot teams of three sporting red superhero capes, each branded with the initials “LYM” in bold letters.
They are the Love Your Melon superheroes. More specifically, they are members from Belmont’s Love Your Melon campus crew, charged with the mission of providing a relief for patients and their families with entertainment and therapeutic one-on-one time.
Love Your Melon became an official organization affiliated with Belmont in February of 2016. Since then, the organization has grown its presence on campus through convocation and other events.
Beyond Belmont’s campus, the organization makes frequent trips to children’s hospitals, and it’s team of over 20 influencers work hard to raise awareness about pediatric cancer.
“Our influencer program allows everyday people to use their social platforms to promote a powerful message and raise awareness for an amazing cause. The people that represent the mission of Love Your Melon truly make a difference,” said campus crew leader Liz Meyers.
Taking advantage of the music scene in Nashville, the Love Your Melon team recently hosted “Concert for a Cure” — a writers round held at The Local on April 9 — featuring an array of Nashville artists.
“Love Your Melon has done a great job of utilizing the features we have that are individual to Nashville — like the writers rounds, musicians that are influencers and concerts,” said Love Your Melon influencer and crew member Alexis Wilkins.
Wilkins, a songwriting major at Belmont, jokes about how she was adopted into the Belmont crew. After starting out as a general influencer with Love Your Melon, she eventually joined the Belmont chapter.
Influencers actively spread the Love Your Melon mission in the community as well as awareness for the company and its mission, working to change the story of pediatric cancer.
Wilkins shares a personal connection to pediatric cancer, and that’s part of the reason she so firmly believes in the Love Your Melon mission.
“If I could communicate one thing about cancer in general, it would be that it’s easy to feel alone. While people are incredibly supportive, sometimes the patient still feels like they are dealing with it by themselves,” said Wilkins. “Someone close to me was battling cancer — and won! Seeing them feel alone was a big piece I noticed.”
For the Love Your Melon crew, that personal connection is coupled with a passion for raising awareness about pediatric cancer, allowing the organization to have an effective presence on campus.
Love Your Melon influencers hosted convocations bi-monthly throughout the 2017-18 school year, sharing “the story” of pediatric cancer, as Love Your Melon public relations manager Megan Garrett calls it.
In Tennessee alone, there were over 1,500 children under the age of 19 diagnosed with cancer between 2010 and 2014, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
During that time 212 children died.
“Pediatric cancer is a vicious disease, but the children affected are not defined by these parameters,” said Garrett. “They are full of life, kind-hearted, loving and deserving of the world.”
In efforts to relieve financial burdens often associated with cancer, Love Your Melon helps alleviate costs for families through fundraisers and merchandise sales. In addition, campus crew members often take part in therapeutic outings such as going to a baseball game, spending time at the movies, or in one patient’s case, cheering with the Belmont Cheer team.
The Love Your Melon crew at Belmont is here to do more than promote the beanies they wear in support of childhood cancer. They are here to encourage Belmont students to be a part of the story, to be a part of the change.
This article written by Meg MacDonald. Photo courtesy of Megan Garrett.