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Auburn grad brings ‘Sunshine’ to childhood cancer victims

Auburn grad Kelley Andrews is the founder of Button Up Sunshine, a business that makes headwear for children undergoing cancer treatment.
There will be a booth nestled between the barbecue and beer at Saturday’s Alpha Psi Rodeo that will be worth checking out–Button Up Sunshine, a business that supports children diagnosed with cancer. The owner, Auburn graduate Kelley Andrews, is a childhood cancer survivor.

Andrews makes head wraps and bandanas for children who’ve lost their hair due of chemotherapy. Cute headwear was something Andrews said she grew up without.

“All they had to offer when I was a child were crocheted hats and ball caps, nothing soft or comfortable,” Andrews said. “I wanted to do something to give back, and I knew I wanted to make headwear for children with cancer.”

Within the past eight months, Andrews’ business has grown beyond cancer patients. Button Up Sunshine wraps are now worn by cyclists, runners, outdoor enthusiasts and even construction workers.

“I’ve sold thousands of dollars (worth of products) in other areas so the market is definitely there,” Andrews said.

For some of the outdoor wraps, Andrews uses a wicking fabric to help the athlete remain cool. It’s also made with soft material so it’s comfortable to wear.

For every five wraps or bandanas sold, Andrews donates one to a child with cancer. She often visits children in area hospitals to share Button Up Sunshine products as well as her own story of fighting leukemia. She plays games with the kids and hosts a “Model for a Day” photo shoot with the help of Bayleigh M. Photography – a company also owned by an Auburn graduate.

“I want to be a cheerleader for these kids,” she said. “I can fully relate to them, and that’s really important for getting through the battle. I want to help fill that gap.”

Button Up Sunshine has grown tremendously since Andrews first started. The wraps and bandanas are made in Mississippi and she has a new fabric distributor in Atlanta. All of the products are made, produced and distributed in the U.S., something Andrews said was important to her.

“It helps people right here,” she said.

Button Up Sunshine products are currently available in and around Mobile where Andrews lives. But she’s in the process of arranging for more distribution opportunities. Andrews is on the radar of a multi-city boutique and a large-chain outdoors store. She also hopes to partner with similar charitable organizations to share her products and mission.

While Button Up Sunshine isn’t her full-time job, she hopes it will be one day. Her current career takes her to various hospitals throughout the country to help with the transition to paperless records. She also attends fundraisers, walks, and runs around the Southeast to share her wraps and her hope.

“I’m able to go into hospitals, interact with children and fit them for head wraps,” she said. “That’s amazing.

“I just want to help them see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m a 14-year survivor, one of nine in my family.”

Within the coming weeks, wraps and bandanas can be purchased at buttonupsunshine.com.

Victoria Cumbow is a 2008 Auburn graduate. She’s a Communications Specialist with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville and a freelance journalist. Find her online at victoriacumbow.com  and follow her on Twitter @victoriacumbow.

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