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Fundraiser 'shell-shocked' by Te'o girlfriend hoax

By Charles Wilson

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:04 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2013

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 fundraising 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 he and three friends got the fundraising idea after a seeing a video that went viral of Te'o holding his head in dismay during the Irish's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the national championship game on Jan. 7.

The goal was to turn the loss — and the player's sudden popularity — into something positive.

"I think we were all kind of disappointed in the result of the game ... and the Manti story was very inspirational," Tudesco said today.

Notre Dame took notice of Tudesco's tweets about the fund drive and sent a university videographer to shoot an interview with him. The video was posted on the Notre Dame athletics YouTube channel Tuesday.

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 fundraiser.

"It would surprise me that Notre Dame would want to promote this if they knew something like this was going on," Tudesco said.

However, Notre Dame officials said Wednesday that they became aware of the hoax on Dec. 26, nearly two weeks before the championship game. University spokesman Dennis Brown didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment today.

Tudesco said he doesn't know Te'o personally and had no contact with him or Notre Dame before setting up the fundraiser. He said money raised by his fundraiser will be held in reserve by indiegogo and released directly to the charity at the end of the campaign.

"We actually never directly receive or touch the money at any point," he said.

Tudesco said the campaign hasn't received any new donations since the news of the hoax broke late Wednesday, though he hopes people continue to donate to the fund drive.


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allie wrote:
Manti needs to come clean and apologize for the chaos he helped cause. I fault his very bad college more than him as they knew about the hoax at least as far back as Christmas . ND has had huge problems with a scandal-plagued program and is desperate top get good press. Football makes people a little crazy I guess.
on January 17,2013 | 10:20AM
awahana wrote:
Manti is now Hawaii's Lance Armstrong. Welcome to the future.
on January 17,2013 | 11:30AM
808comp wrote:
This thing is getting to be more,and more crazy. Bottom line, i hope the whole truth comes out good,or bad.
on January 17,2013 | 11:32AM
allie wrote:
The truth is gradually coming out about this phoney. Notre Dame ought to come forward to apologize for their role in it. The bad academic school is rightly being attacked nation-wide for their role in keeping this fraud going.
on January 17,2013 | 12:42PM
walaau808 wrote:
It is so funny that you talk about being phoney...you're just as big a fraud as anyone else!
on January 17,2013 | 02:05PM
turbolink wrote:
Allie's contempt for anything associated with football is astounding...almost like she's really a guy as some readers suggest and couldn't make the team. Whatever it is, it's extremely negative.
on January 17,2013 | 04:22PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
It is sad that Manti's action can have a negatve turn for those who tried to raise funds for cancer research. Now this whole scenaro has pretty much ruined the whole thing.
on January 17,2013 | 01:27PM
Mythman wrote:
Public Relations equals Hoaxing - Hoaxing Equals Public Relations: Public Relations and Media are one in the same therefore Media is Hoaxing.
on January 17,2013 | 01:42PM
walaau808 wrote:
Sure glad none of you have ever made mistakes in your life...
on January 17,2013 | 02:05PM
builderguy wrote:
Yes we make mistakes but not a national level. All that hype last year about MT. I didn't like it but this goes beyond stupid
on January 17,2013 | 06:26PM
CartwrightPark wrote:
What a tangled web we weave when we continue to deceive.
on January 18,2013 | 07:03AM
anakemo wrote:
Seems 'allie' got a problem aid ND....
on January 18,2013 | 12:50PM