University of Kentucky Dancer Kate Kaufling Dead at 20

University of Kentucky dance team member Kate Kaufling sadly died at age 20 following a battle with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

By Lindsay Weinberg Apr 04, 2024 12:00 AMTags
Watch: University of Kentucky Dancer Kate Kaufling Dead at 20

The Wildcats are in mourning. 

University of Kentucky dance team member Kate Kaufling died on March 31 following a battle with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, according to the college. She was 20. 

After joining the team last year alongside twin sister Abbey, the nursing student became a ray of light on the squad.

"Kate was a joy to coach and to be around," head coach Dawn Walters said in a statement. "Her smile could light up a room and she was beloved by all."

The coach continued, "We will remember her for the tough battle she fought with osteosarcoma over the past year. She was brave until the very end and all of us can draw inspiration from the courageous battle that she fought. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with the Kaufling family."

In addition to having a passion for dance, Kate was also an "amazing student," who worked tirelessly, according to UK Executive Associate Athletics Director Sandy Bell.

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"Even during her cancer treatments, Kate kept up with her studies, setting an amazing example for her teammates," the administrator added. "Kate was beloved by all who knew her and she will be deeply missed."

In January, Kate marked a major milestone in her health journey, sharing an Instagram video of herself ringing the symbolic bell following her chemotherapy treatments. 


Noting that 2023 was not the year she imagined it would be, she explained that her plans of returning to the University of Kentucky "made a sharp unexpected turn," as she instead spent seven months undergoing an "intense chemotherapy treatment full of many hospital stays."

"7 months later I'm proud to say, 'it's over,'" Kate shared at the time. "Cancer is a curse I wish on no human being, but it did change my outlook on life. Hold on to your loved ones as long as you can. Those hugs might be the only thing making them feel safe right now. Embrace your friends who treat you no differently because you're ill. Thank God everyday for everything around you. Today I'm proud to share I'm officially done with chemotherapy and ready for a better chapter of my life to begin."

Kate is survived by her parents Holly and Steve Kaufling, as well as her sister Abbey.

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