Updated: February 19, 2013 3:15PM
INDIANAPOLIS — A University of Notre Dame graduate who launched a campaign to raise money for a cancer research group in memory of linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend says he is “shell-shocked” to learn the woman didn’t exist.
Dan Tudesco, a 2006 graduate who now works in public relations in New York, set up an online account at fund-raising website indiegogo.com on Jan. 9 to solicit $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Inc. The initial pitch said donations would go to the society in memory of Lennay Kekua, who reportedly died last fall, and in honor of Te’o, “two individuals who have been an inspiration to us through an iconic season.”
Tudesco said “everybody is kind of surprised and a little shell-shocked right now” after Deadspin.com reported Wednesday that Kekua didn’t exist. But he said he didn’t believe Notre Dame was aware of the hoax when it promoted his fund-raiser.