Foundation started by CCU alumnus donates sunscreen products to raise melanoma awareness
Andy’s parents, Bob and Candi Caress, recently drove from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the CCU campus to hand-deliver sunscreen products donated by the foundation to the Chanticleer Athletic Foundation (CAF). The delivery included 12 one-gallon and 25 half-gallon jugs with pump dispensers and roughly 10,000 individual packets. The products will be available to Coastal students via Student Health Services, athletic trainers and the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center. They will also be available at the Delan and Lynn Stevens Tennis Complex and for staff members who work outdoors, including those in public safety, buildings and grounds, and at the General James Hackler Golf Course. The CAF will also distribute the sunscreen at Coastal’s summer Orientation sessions.
“We are indebted to the Andy Caress Melanoma Foundation for its generous donation,” said Mike Cruise, health educator in CCU’s Student Health Services. “Being able to offer free sunscreen to the campus community provides us a valuable tool to help improve knowledge and behavior in regard to skin health. This donation will have a lasting impact on a community that, located near a beach, could be at increased risk of overexposure to the sun.”
“We want to raise awareness in young people that they need to protect their skin from the sun, whether that’s covering up with a hat, wearing long sleeves or staying out of the sun during certain times of the day,” said Candi Caress. “Wearing sunscreen is another way to protect their skin. UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer, and the most deadly form of skin cancer is melanoma. We hope that the sunscreen product that we brought to campus will serve as a reminder to them that they need to protect their skin, especially in this part of the country. It’s important to reapply every two hours while you are in the sun. Better awareness about protecting your skin is what we hope to accomplish.”
According to his parents, Andy loved the outdoors and competing in all types of sports. He started playing tennis around the age of 5 and eventually became the No. 4 singles player for the Chanticleer men’s tennis team. The Caresses have made a commitment to the University to name Court 4 at the tennis complex in their son’s memory.
“So much of Andy is at Coastal Carolina University,” said Candi Caress. “Having a court named after him will be a lasting reminder for people to protect their skin, be aware of the benefits of sunscreen and check for moles. To have him commemorated in that way will be wonderful.”
“Coastal Carolina University was a special place to Andy, and it’s a special place to us,” said Bob Caress. “He absolutely loved it here. He had a ferocious will to win. Once he got to Coastal, he grew tremendously in terms of talent and work ethic. He also was a great student and a joy to be around.”
Andy Caress’ battle with melanoma began in October 2008 when he became concerned about a mole on the back of his neck and went to a dermatologist. A biopsy indicated that the mole was melanoma, and he had surgeries to remove the mole and the lymph nodes in his neck in Cincinnati, followed by treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Bob Caress said, “The doctors at MD Anderson threw everything they could at him to help him fight this disease. He was very, very strong and was handling it all extremely well, but melanoma is a beast.”
Andy bravely endured more surgeries on his neck, the insertion of a rod to strengthen his femur, countless rounds of radiation, and weeks of debilitating bio-chemo therapy. For a brief period of time early in 2010, his body responded miraculously to a new drug. But by the end of April, melanoma returned with a vengeance. Sadly, Andy met an opponent he could not beat, and died peacefully on Aug. 4, 2010, just eight days before his 25th birthday.
The Andy Caress Melanoma Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, through awareness, education and support of research to find a cure. Learn more at andycaress.org.