Warming heads, hearts

Hats are used for a multitude of things. Keeping heads warm in the winter, fashion statements, making sure the sun stays out of our eyes, and providing hope and support to children battling cancer across the U.S.

Eighteen year-old Shannon Swon, a Webster City native, is one of the 4,500 college students volunteering and working towards ending pediatric cancer, one hat at a time. Swon is a freshman at Iowa State University majoring in elementary education.

Swon is involved with Love Your Melon, an organization created in 2014 that sells beanies, caps, shirts and accessories and donates a portion of the proceeds to cancer research – specifically, pediatric cancer. For every hat bought, a hat is donated to a child battling cancer.

Swon is a part of the Iowa State Love Your Melon Campus Crew. Swon along with 19 other members of the ISU crew are actively working towards putting a hat on the head of every child battling cancer in the U.S.

“We are a group of 20 volunteers who help spread the word of Love Your Melon. We hold weekly meetings to discuss upcoming events, new ideas, and ways to continue selling LYM products,” said Swon.

Every hat donation is a super hero experience. The crew dresses up as different heros and has the privilege of meeting with cancer patients and their families at either the hospital or their home.

“As a member of the ISU Campus Crew, we are the ones who hand deliver the hats to the kids. Whether they are in the hospital or at their homes, we dress up as superheroes so symbolize how they are strong enough to get through this battle, Swon stated.

Swon, along with the rest of the ISU LYM Crew have recently delivered a cap to a child in the Ames area battling cancer.

“I have had the opportunity to donate a hat to a child while visiting him in his home. I will never forget that experience. It’s one thing to talk about helping these kids but it’s another to actually meet them and see their faces light up, Swon said.

The crew dressed up as super heroes and spent time with the families playing games and building gingerbread houses to bring some relief and smiles to families going through hard times.

“If anyone is interested in joining the Iowa State Love Your Melon Campus Crew, let me know. We wouldn’t be as successful as we are without our volunteers. I may be biased, but I think that we have the best in the entire country, said Swon.

The ISU LYM Crew has given away almost 500 hats this semester. The crew is in the works of planning a series of donation events for spring semester where 2,000 more hats will be donated.

“I am so honored to be a part of something so much bigger than myself and I cannot wait to continue on with my efforts,” said Swon.

According to the Love Your Melon website, Love Your Melon was started by two sophomores at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota as part of an entrepreneurial class. Their mission: to improve the lives of children battling cancer since October 22, 2012.

LYM Ambassadors have been fundraising and sharing knit beanies and ball caps with young cancer patients since 2014. All LYM Ambassadors are college students at different universities in the U.S. There are more than 4,500 college students at over 300 schools who are responsible for spreading the message of LYM in their respective cities.

Love Your Melon has recently launched a new model to replace its buy one, give one program. Now, fifty percent of net proceeds on every Love Your Melon product sold will be donated to the Pinky Swear Foundation and CureSearch.

To support the ISU LYM Crew, credit the ISU Campus Crew upon checkout. This ensures the donation will stay in Iowa.

“If you know of a child who is battling cancer, either let me know or go out to loveyourmelon.com and request a hat. You can find the location to do so under the about tab,” Swon stated.

For more information about the Love Your Melon program or to order your own hat, visit loveyourmelon.com.