COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Spreading smiles one hat at a time. That's the mission of a group of University of South Carolina students who doubled as superheroes!
The young women were representing the "Love Your Melon" brand Thursday morning at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, playing with kids who are currently undergoing treatment for various types of cancer.
"We just ask them about their favorite things and ask them about how long they've been here," Rachel Paul, a USC senior said. "We try to not talk about the fact that they have cancer so we can bring a smile to their day."
Love Your Melon is a clothing brand that aims to put a hat on every kid that has cancer. For every hat purchased, another hat goes to a child fighting that battle. This was the USC Love Your Melon Campus Crew's first time visiting Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.
"I think it's awesome to have them do something else," Paul said. "And it's usually a surprise when we give them the hats. They love the hats! And they get to pick their favorite color. And they'll have them for forever."
And on Thursday, the smiles in the 5th-floor playroom were contagious – even for those going through some of the toughest times of their lives.
"He just lost his hair yesterday, so the hats are really, really nice," said Rayena Oswald, whose son has Ewing's sarcoma. "And the girls have really cheered him up. Joked with him and had a good time."
Oswald's son, Graham, shaved his head on Wednesday. Graham was growing out his hair to donate to Locks for Love. Due to his own cancer diagnosis, he had to get rid of his dyed blue and pink strands on Wednesday.
"We shaved it yesterday and it's been a rough day with that," said Oswald. "But having the hat has helped him. It helps him keep it covered so he's not so self-conscious."
Fifty percent of all profits from Love Your Melon sales goes toward nonprofits fighting pediatric cancer. To date, the group has given over 110,000 hats to kids with cancer across the United States.
If you'd like to purchase a hat or learn more, head to the Love Your Melon website.