A young boy named Jett Bender-Roe got to be the ball boy for the Fort Wayne Mastodons men’s basketball team last fall. He got to meet the players, hang out in the locker room and watch the game. And for that small amount of time he was at the game, the cancer he was battling wasn’t the first thing that had to be on his mind.
This was made possible by the IPFW Love Your Melon, the local branch of a national organization that sells hats and apparel to benefit children with cancer.
Founded in 2012, the national organization sells beanies, shirts, scarves, koozies, necklaces and other various merchandise and donate half of the proceeds to nonprofits who work with children like Roe.
Roe was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2014. His family got in contact with IPFW LYM after requesting a hat for Jett through the national organization’s website. Since then, the students in LYM have taken Jett to IPFW basketball games, mini-golf, a Mad Ants game and more.
“They are just so great at coming up with fun activities to do for Jett or to get involved in,” said Justine Roe, Jett’s mom, via email. “It’s so great because they really help take his mind off things and make him smile. Not to mention that in turn helps us all as a family to have some fun and see him so happy.”
IPFW LYM official IPFW student organization started in the fall of 2016. They are one of 740 national LYM groups who promote apparel and sponsor children.
The IPFW crew tries to hold at least one or two events, such as the ones they did for Roe, every semester for other local children. In the past, the IPFW group has worked with one child per semester but they were able to add a second family this year and may be able to add a third soon, said Morgan Brown, president/captain of the IPFW LYM group.
“When we do events with Jett, or any child, I always get a sense of pride for being in this organization. I feel proud to be apart of the organization, proud that we are helping this family, and proud that I am working with a group of individuals who are dedicated to making each experience for the children one to remember,” Brown said.
Brown said she got involved when a friend told her about the organization starting up last spring.
“I instantly fell in love with the idea. Being involved with LYM means being able to directly interact with a child and improve their lives, even if it is for only 20 minutes,” Brown said. “For me, I love being a part of this group and seeing the smiles that we can bring to someone’s face.”
Students can join LYM by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by searching for them on social media.
Brown said she is looking for new crew members to be involved, yet spaces are filling up quickly. There is a volunteer list for students who would like to be involved during events but cannot commit to the meeting schedule.