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​Student Group Advocates for Pediatric Cancer Research

October 3, 2016

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Only four percent of federal funding goes to childhood cancer research, according to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer. An average hospital stay for a child receiving treatment is $40,000. Kinesiology major Caitlin Cote wants to make more people aware of facts like this and learn how they can help.

Pediatric cancer is something Cote ’17 and her family experienced firsthand when her sister was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three. Her sister is 13-years-old now and Cote remains committed to educating people about the realities facing those affected.

As part of the national organization Love Your Melon, the Texas Lutheran University chapter seeks to improve the lives of children battling cancer. Started by two college students in 2012, the apparel brand’s mission is to put a hat or beanie on every child with cancer in America and support the fight against pediatric cancer.

Cote serves as TLU’s campus crew captain and is in charge of promoting Love Your Melon’s message through various events. Each chapter works toward raising awareness about childhood cancer through promoting and selling apparel from Love Your Melon’s website. Every time someone purchases a product, the TLU chapter receives points toward collecting items they can use to market the group or participate in special events.

One of the best things about Love Your Melon, says Cote, is how the proceeds are distributed.

“50 percent of all proceeds from the sale of their products are donated to their nonprofit partners CureSearch and the Pinky Swear Foundation,” Cote said. “CureSearch funds research for treatments and cures and the Pinky Swear Foundation provides financial assistance to families who are not only dealing with a child who has cancer, but lots of medical bills.”

With more than 11,000 students at 740 different universities nationwide, Love Your Melon has donated more than 75,000 hats to children battling cancer and 1.1 million dollars to research and immediate support for families.

Cote and the TLU campus crew program members have contributed to this national movement through bake sales, their Stand Up To Cancer initiative on September 9, and promoting their cause at local events. Recently, the students participated in a 5K on campus with the Jacob’s Ladder Foundation—a Seguin-based organization that provides care packages, social activities, and financial assistance to children in South Texas fighting cancer.

This week, they will be tailgating during Homecoming on Saturday, October 8 at Jackson Park Student Activities Center. They will be sharing Love Your Melon’s message with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, selling items, and giving out prizes. Cote says this will lead into National Love Your Melon Day on Thursday, October 20.

On that day, the group hopes to participate in a special hospital donation event for a three-year-old San Antonio boy they met at the Jacob’s Ladder Foundation 5K.

Their goal is to make sure he and his family have a day where they can hopefully take their mind off everything going on and enjoy a fun time together.

“We’re thinking of taking him to a pumpkin patch or dressing up as superheroes and spending the day with,” Cote said. “We want to make it as memorable as possible. I remember when people would visit my sister and it made her day. It’s heartwarming to have these kids know that people are thinking about them and to let the families know they’re not alone. This is what Love Your Melon is all about.”