THE BLOG
02/24/2016 11:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Two College Students Started a Million Dollar Company and are Fighting Cancer

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The company began in 2012, as a class project for Brian Keller and Zachary Quinn; students at the University of St. Thomas. "At the time," Quinn explains, "we both had family and friends impacted by cancer."

Their idea: a buy-one-give-one retail model (much like TOMS) that would allow people to support pediatric cancer patients.

Their goal: to give a beanie to every child, in America, battling cancer.

Called "Love Your Melon," the company has grown from its modest Minnesota roots and, in three years, has given away over 45,000 beanies to kids going through chemotherapy. They have generated over a million dollars for charity.

The hats (American-made) are donated in person at hospitals nationwide by Love Your Melon college ambassadors. The beanies are well-received and, as Quinn says, "just make sense...because every superhero needs a helmet."

I recently asked Quinn, President of Love Your Melon (LYM), a few questions:

First of all, congratulations on your success. How did you arrive at the idea for LYM? Why cancer specifically?

Cancer is the disease that touches our communities the most - a widespread disease with many causes that inflicts fear upon us. Love Your Melon fights cancer with love, comfort and coziness. Our beanies cover children battling cancer with love and bring them into a community of people that support them.

Brian and I started Love Your Melon because we wanted to make a difference in our communities and found that cancer was the most prevalent cause of pain and suffering. Love Your Melon is our way of fighting back against this horrible disease. It all came from the simple idea of wanting to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Through selling headwear and apparel, we are able to create programs that bring college kids dressed as Superheroes into children's hospitals across the country. Currently, Love Your Melon is at over 750 different schools nationally with over 11,000 college students representing the organization as Love Your Melon Crew Members.

And what are you working towards?

Our ultimate goal for Love Your Melon is to find a cure for childhood cancer and make sure that no child is left behind. We have now given over 52,000 hats to children undergoing cancer treatment and donated over 1 million dollars to cancer research and family support. There is plenty of work left to do and we are on a mission to make sure it happens.

What do you know for sure?

Details matter.

Check out LYM on social media (Instagram; Twitter), and visit their website for more.