September 6, 2004
Twelve years after succumbing to cancer, one Tempe girl’s legacy will live on through an art festival Saturday in Sun Lakes.
Deb Leone began the Melonhead Foundation in 1997 in honor of her daughter, Melanie, who died in 1992 after a 2 1 /2-year struggle with leukemia.
Many organizations fund cancer research, but the Melonhead Foundation is one of the few groups that specialize in the day-to-day needs of cancer patients and their families, such as paying for rent or alternative cancer therapies, Leone said.
"When we went through the process, we couldn’t find any help," Leone said.
Melonfest — An Evening of Art and Entertainment is one of the Melonhead Foundation’s major annual fundraisers, said Joy Beard, the event’s chairwoman. The festival will bring together local artists, entertainers and supporters of the foundation’s mission for a buffet dinner and art show.
All proceeds from the Melonfest’s $50 entrance and dinner fee, as well as silent auctions, raffle tickets and 50 percent of art sales, go to the foundation. The foundation funds grants for pediatric cancer patients and their families, Beard said.
Since its inception, the Melonhead Foundation has distributed more than $500,000 to approximately 150 families of young cancer patients. It has never turned down a grant request.
"I have an intention that we will always have money for the grants," Leone said. "So far, we’ve been very blessed."
This year’s goal is to raise $100,000.
Information: Call the Melonhead Foundation at (480) 985-1088 or visit www.melonhead.org.