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College Students Help Pediatric Cancer Patients

University of St. Thomas students Zac Quinn and Brian Keller started a business to raise money for pediatric cancer. (
University of St. Thomas students Zac Quinn and Brian Keller started a business to raise money for pediatric cancer. (
December 21, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS – A company that started as a class project for two college students has expanded into a community service effort for more than 12,000 students on nearly 800 college campuses across the country.

Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller were students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, when they launched Love Your Melon. The idea was to provide beanies and baseball caps for local children with cancer, but it was so successful they started a company, with half of the profits going to pediatric cancer research.

National Events Director Alex Meysman said college students go to hospitals dressed up in Superhero costumes to deliver the caps to the kids.

"And then they get to bring them in and go room to room and do arts and crafts with the kids – I mean, this can go from having a little music show or some kind of play, all the way up to having a celebrity come in and perform for these kids," he explained.

In the last four years, Love Your Melon has provided more than 86,000 hats to children with cancer and raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research. The beanies are made by Minnesota Knitting Mills, and the baseball caps are made in Denver.

Meysman said college students have embraced the idea of helping the children.

"It's these college students that we don't recruit, they come to us and say, 'Hey, I'd like to start a college campus crew, and I want to personally get my friends involved so that we can promote your message and then personally help the children that are in our community that are battling cancer and their family,'" he said.

Meysman also said that it's mostly about the kids, but it's also teaching the millennials who volunteer their time something very valuable.

"We're taking these college students and developing them as leaders of tomorrow and showing them that anything is possible, especially when you're trying to do something for somebody else, being selfless," he added.

Meysman said Love Your Melon has been so successful that most of its products online have sold out since Cyber Monday.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN