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OU staff member's daughter sells custom-designed face masks to fundraise for uncle diagnosed with melanoma

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Mariah Seedorf wolf drawing

The wolf design on which Mariah Seedorf's masks are based, captured July 27.

OU’s History Department office manager is selling masks designed by her daughter to raise money for her twin brother battling melanoma. 

Asked to describe her brother, Christa Seedorf said she has trouble articulating her emotions amid the heartbreak she is experiencing. Through tears, however, Seedorf was able to capture the essence of her brother, who she said constantly thinks of others. 

“He’s not selfish — he’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help somebody, and he doesn’t think a second thought about it,” Seedorf said. “He tries to put on a tough exterior, (but) he’s just selfless and doesn’t ask for anything.” 

Seedorf said her brother maintained his tough exterior despite the pain he was facing internally. She was notified about her brother’s condition only a few weeks ago when her mother called while taking him to the emergency room. 

“He finally went to the hospital because he couldn’t take the pain anymore,” Seedorf said. “He was trying to be tough and he didn’t want to bother anyone … but they said he had melanoma.” 

His diagnosis was not welcome news, especially considering his current unemployment and lack of health insurance. Seedorf said he is unable to pay his hospital bills, and it pains her to watch her brother struggle financially. 

“He does not have health insurance because he didn’t quite fit in the gap,” Seedorf said. “I just feel really bad because there’s no help for people when they’re single and they’re not in a family.” 

Although her brother does not have children, Seedorf said her children have always been special to him. She said they look up to him, which is why she was not surprised when her 16-year-old daughter Mariah came to her with the idea to raise money for her uncle with homemade masks. 

“One of the things she does that he loves is her artwork, and she's always wanting to get it out there,” Seedorf said. “So she came up with the idea to sell masks, and we found an art site she could sell them on and give some of the profit to my brother.” 

Seedorf said her daughter drew a design in three to four hours, which she put on a mask to sell through RedBubble — an online store for independent artists. The pattern centers around a wolf —  her favorite animal — and features the melanoma awareness black ribbon. 

From actions as small as babysitting, to more impactful ones like using the limited funds he had to support her daughter’s art, Seedorf said her brother has become a significant figure in her daughter’s life. She said watching her daughter has emphasized the importance of rallying around her brother and supporting him just like he has supported her family. 

“I just want people to reach out and help, and if they … want to give just to help, that's great,” Seedorf said. “(But) I also want to be able to give back … to all of these people who have donated, so I think the mask is a way to give back so that they get something too.” 

Other individuals who are close to Seedorf are showing their support for her brother through separate initiatives. OU history professor David Chappell, for example, created a GoFundMe  that has raised over $4,000 in only a week. 

In a time filled with unknowns regarding her brother’s future and medical costs, Seedorf said it has been humbling to watch people show their support for her brother and family. 

“OU is kind of like family, and when they see one of their family members hurting, they hurt too,” Seedorf said. “I'm just really blessed to be working here — there are so many great people.” 

Despite the struggles she is facing, Seedorf said her situation has reminded her of the trials everyone around her is facing during this time. She said it pains her to think about other people in her situation. 

“Everybody has reached out and started trying to help (me) as much as possible — but I just want to see that same kindness (everywhere),” Seedorf said. “Any kind of help would be appreciated, even if it’s pointed in the direction of another organization. … If I could find a way to get everybody help, that would be incredible.”

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