Freshmen lead cancer awareness organization


Frank Sek

Evan Frank, freshman finance major (left), and Hannah Best, freshman fitness management major (right), make blessing bags for a local nursing home.

Students at PNW have started a campus crew to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.

Crew Captain Celine Certa, freshman business major, started a local chapter of Love Your Melon, an organization founded in 2012 whose mission is to give a hat to every child with cancer. Since then, the organization has begun donating 50 percent of its apparel profits to pediatric cancer research and partnering with nonprofit organizations like Pinky Swear and CureSearch.

“Cancer has affected people around me and their lives,” Certa said. “Once I learned about Love Your Melon and what they do, I wanted to be a part of it.”

Certa first learned about Love Your Melon from seeing campus crews at other colleges. She became interested in joining one at PNW and reached out to Love Your Melon about doing so. After telling her PNW did not have a campus crew, the organization encouraged her to start one.

Certa said one reason she supports Love Your Melon is because of how personal the organization is. For instance, one of the organization’s goals was to set up a day for a girl to meet country singer Kacey Musgraves.

“One of the things they do is fulfill dying wishes, and I think it’s such a great idea. It’s cute and I love that they do things like that,” Certa said.

The PNW campus crew is comprised of 17 students, nearly the maximum of the 20 members allowed. The crew works on a credit system in which every item purchased from the Love Your Melon website earns a point for a selected campus crew. After a number of points are reached, the crew unlocks the ability to do something special for children with cancer.

Hannah Best, vice-captain and freshman fitness major, said she likes that Love Your Melon creates opportunities.

“My friend’s little cousin, who is 3, has cancer. It made me realize we can do something about this and make things better for those affected,” Best said.

The crew currently has 75 points and hopes to reach 100 points. Then the crew members will be able to purchase superhero costumes to wear when they visit a sick child in a hospital. Until then, Certa said her crew is focused on filling the three open spots and raising awareness of childhood cancer on campus.

On Nov. 19, the crew took blessing bags to a nursing home to hand out for Thanksgiving. In each bag was a homemade bookmark, a card, a door decoration and a bingo sheet. The crew then went on to play Thanksgiving bingo with the residents they visited. In December, Certa and Best will participate in a Santa Run dressed up as Anna and Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen.”

Certa said their long-term goal is to build up enough credits to dress up as superheroes and spend the day visiting 100 children. She said they would visit children on their own, but people are not allowed to set up visits with hospital patients unless they are part of an organizations, so with the help of the Love Your Melon event coordinators, they can do so.

“This is significant because pediatric cancer among children is the one of the top killers and it’s one of the least funded,” Certa said.