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'The funding is needed now' | UT Austin student raising awareness around aggressive brain cancer

Kate Snedeker's father, Craig, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May of 2021. On Sunday, he lost his battle with the disease.

AUSTIN, Texas — Glioblastoma multiforme is a fast-growing, aggressive brain cancer that can be deadly for those who are diagnosed.

Now, a student at University of Texas at Austin has found an innovative way to raise money and awareness about the disease after her own father was diagnosed.

"I love you to the moon and back" – eight words, in the form of emojis. It's a phrase UT junior Kate Snedeker and her father used through good and bad days.

"It's such a simple phrase. But we never ended a text conversation without 'I love you to the moon and back,'" said Snedeker, founder of the nonprofit Gray for Glioblastoma.

Her father, Craig, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May of 2021. On Sunday, he lost his battle with the disease.

"There's no way to diagnose the cancer type until the symptoms present themselves. And that's super hard because you're already being affected before you even know you have the cancer," Snedeker said.

She couldn't find much information on the cancer after her father's diagnosis. So she created her nonprofit, Gray For Glioblastoma, to raise money through events and auctions to shine a light on the cancer.

She said when it comes to securing funding and other help in the realm of brain cancers, it can be much harder than other forms of cancer due to the rarity and overall lack of research.

Snedeker soon realized auction items add up though, making the take-home margins for donations slim. So she turned to social media, asking influencers like TikTok star Alix Earle to donate the unused promotion items they get from brands to her charity for auction.

"Alix ended up texting me and saying, 'Hey, I, just shipped out some boxes. Do you mind if I post a video?' And I was like, 'Oh, like, go for it,'" Snedeker said.

Dozens of boxes filled with thousands of dollars worth of products are now ready to be auctioned off.

"But I would say the most incredible thing that has come out of it has been the awareness that has been spread and the people that it has reached," Snedeker said.

Although Snedeker's father is gone, she and her cousin, Valerie, say they're glad to have shared this journey with him to seek out answers he couldn't get.

"There are families that, you know, we can hope that some day the diagnosis doesn't change their lives the way that it did our family's life," Valerie Desrosier said.

"I love you to the moon and back" – eight words that Snedeker will take with her forever.

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