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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky students attend vigil for Kate Kaufling

Hundreds gather for a vigil for UK dance team member Kate Kaufling on Monday, April 15, 2024, at Greek Park at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Kaufling, a sophomore, died from bone cancer less than a year after her diagnosis. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Hundreds of students gathered for Kate Kaufling’s vigil at the University of Kentucky’s Greek Park on April 15.

Kaufling died on Easter Sunday at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital after battling an aggressive form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma, for 10 months.

A sophomore on the dance team at UK, a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and a nursing student, Kaufling had touched numerous communities on campus who came together in Greek Park to celebrate her 20 years of life.

“Grief is love’s souvenir,” Delta Delta Delta Chapter President Olivia Freeman said. “Our grief this evening is evidence of the love Kate led with.”

Kate shared her love of dancing with her twin sister, Abbey Kaufling, and together, the two of them joined the UK dance team in 2022. 

“In her short time with us, my twin sister left an undeniable mark on the world, a legacy of love, compassion and unwavering strength,” Abbey said. “Her laugh was infectious and her smile radiant … Let us be ‘Kate kind’ and carry forward her presence of kindness and fight, spreading Kate’s love wherever we go.”

Those who attended the vigil were asked to wear bright colors in honor of Kate and were given a pin of a yellow ribbon.

Yellow is the color of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed annually in September.

Abbey and her family also made “Be Kate Kind” cards to pass around in the community.

“These ‘Be Kate Kind’ cards have a QR code where you can join the Facebook group and it’s to do an act of kindness and pass it forward,” UK dance team sophomore Sami Tate said. “Whether that be paying for the person behind you in a drive through, or giving that card to a Starbucks worker and saying ‘give this to the next person.’ That would be the best way to honor Kate.” 

Kate’s fight against cancer has received national attention in just a few short weeks. Her friends and family said they hope Kate’s life can bring more awareness to osteosarcoma and leave an impact of kindness and love in her community.

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