The Love Your Melon bus returned to St. Thomas on Friday, Feb. 7, after a monthlong trip across the United States. Founders and UST entrepreneurship students Brian Keller and Zachary Quinn, along with their documentary crew, traveled 5,000 miles to bring their organization's mission to a national audience.
Love Your Melon is a nonprofit organization that grew out of class project. It operates on a buy-one-give-one model – for every hat that is sold, one is given to a child in a hospital.
The culmination of the Smile Tour prompted producers of NBC's Today Show to visit St. Thomas during the organization's homecoming celebration on John P. Monahan Plaza.
Watch the Love Your Melon appearance on the Today Show:
Love Your Melon Smile Tour by the numbers:
- 5,000 miles traveled through 23 states.
- 18 cities, nine hospitals and seven college campuses visited.
- Two adventures provided to children – including a day of sightseeing in New York City for one child, and a bus ride and fun day for another who was returning to school after a year of treatment.
Along the way, 1,844 hats were sold and 850 donated. A tour highlight included an appearance on Good Morning America.
At its homecoming celebration at St. Thomas, Love Your Melon sold 341 hats and set up its mobile barber shop where several students and UST community members shaved their heads.
Love Your Melon Milestones
Since its founding in October 2012, Love Your Melon has:
- Delivered hats to all 50 states, as well as 12 countries,
- Sold 5,044 hats,
- Donated 4,050 hats,
- Shaved 171 heads, and
- Provided eight helicopter rides, four plane rides, 10 limo rides, four concerts and six athlete visits.
According to Quinn, the gap between hats sold and donated will help launch the organization's college ambassador program. "We are choosing 20 individuals attending different colleges around the country and organizing donation events," he said, noting that ambassadors will carry on the organization's mission through giving hats and visiting hospitals. Already on board are students at Emory University and Boston College, who Keller and Quinn met with while on the Smile Tour.
Read more about Love Your Melon in St. Thomas magazine.