The University of Kentucky is mourning the death of dance team member Kate Kaufling, who died on Sunday less than a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer. She was just 20. 

The university announced Kaufling’s untimely passing on Monday. According to a news release, she had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. 

Wildcats logo

The University of Kentucky logo on Dec. 17, 2022. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

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"We are all saddened by Kate’s passing. 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."

According to a GoFundMe fundraiser, Kaufling was diagnosed with cancer on June 2 after detecting "a few lumps and swollen lymph nodes." 

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer that is typically diagnosed in children, teens and young adults, but can develop at any age, according to the American Cancer Society.   

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"In addition to being a talented dancer, Kate was also an amazing student, in the College of Nursing, who took her academics very seriously," Sandy Bell, UK executive associate athletics director, said in a statement. 

Wildcats flagged is waved

A Kentucky flag is waved after a Wildcats' touchdown on Nov. 25, 2023, at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium in Louisville. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"Even during her cancer treatments, Kate kept up with her studies, setting an amazing example for her teammates. Kate was beloved by all who knew her and she will be deeply missed. On behalf of UK Athletics, we send our deepest sympathies to Holly, Steve, Abbey and the entire Kaufling family."

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Wildcats cheer squad

The Kentucky Wildcats perform in the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Rupp Arena on Nov. 24, 2023, in Lexington. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kaufling joined the Kentucky dance team with her twin sister, Abbey, in September. 

She is survived by her parents, Holly and Steve Kaufling, and her twin sister. 

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