Briar Cliff students sell beanies to support childhood cancer research

Briar Cliff Love your Melon Beanies
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Sydney Beals (’17), front center, brought the “Love your Melon” movement to the Briar Cliff University campus. Classmates, clockwise from left, Brianna Eaton, McKenzie Rusk and Rebecca Dodunski, are helping out.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Sydney Beals, a pre-med student at Briar Cliff University, kept scrolling through a zealous friend’s Instagram posts and noticing photos of her wearing these “Love Your Melon” logoed beanies and she’d be dressing up like a superhero.

Beals couldn’t help but wonder what that was all about.

When you’re thinking of a childhood, you’re not thinking of hospital rooms, and you’re not thinking of chemotherapy.

— Sydney Beals ('18),
"Love your Melon" campus group creator

Love Your Melon is a Minnesota-based nonprofit. Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller started it in 2012 while they were in college. They set out with a mission to put a hat on every child battling cancer in the United States through a buy-one-give-one program and have college ambassadors, dressed as superheroes, swoop in to hospitals across the country to make the special delivery and brighten a child’s day.

Once the Briar Cliff junior learned this, instantly she wanted to join.

“My uncle had osteosarcoma and died at 24. I know a few kids with cancer and it’s terrible, just heart wrenching to watch families go through that,” she said. “When you’re thinking of a childhood, you’re not thinking of hospital rooms, and you’re not thinking of chemotherapy. You’re thinking of being outside in a park and playing on swings and stuff like that. That’s not how it is for these kids, and that’s sad.”

Beals, who plays basketball at Briar Cliff, wanted to get the program started before winter break to no avail. So after J-Term ended and everyone was back on campus, she went full-speed ahead, not knowing she had missed the deadline to start a “campus crew.”

She pleaded with the powers that be at the nonprofit and got an extension. In about 72 hours, she had to fill out the paperwork, find 10-20 students who were willing to be involved and then get everyone to vote on four leadership positions.

They pulled together and got everything in on time.

Getting involved in the Love Your Melon movement has already left an impact on Beals.

“I always thought I would be a surgeon and then endocrinology. I’ve been all over the place,” she said. “But I’m starting to think oncology might be for me.”

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