The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

Aggies band together to BTHO cancer

Photo by Via GoFundMe “Help Mitch BTHO cancer”

Texas A&M students organize a fundraiser for Corps of Cadet member Mitch Villalba.

After finding out psychology freshman Mitch Villalba would need further treatment for a rare case of testicular cancer, a GoFundMe was created in his honor to support the cost of treatment. 
Expecting only one treatment, Villalba was told he would be needing multiple rounds of chemotherapy in Dallas, which inspired his friends and fellow K-2 members in the Corps of Cadets — freshman sophomore Grace Vasicek, engineering freshman Tyler Papp and sociology sophomore Ellie Curran — to find some way to help Villalba financially.
“After sharing this news with us, [Curran] and I decided that we wanted to find a way to help,” Vasicek said in a comment to The Battalion. “We both knew that chemo treatments are expensive, so we settled on starting a GoFundMe within two minutes after the call with Mitch’s doctor ended.”
The GoFundMe was created on April 24, detailing the situation and has since raised $54,077 from 695 donors. Vasicek said she wants the Aggie community to know how deserving Villalba is of support from the community. 
“Villalba is a caring and funny guy. He always knows the right thing to say to make someone smile. I haven’t known him [for] a long time, but the time I have spent with him are memories that I cherish,” Vasicek said. “He is the last person that should have to go through leaving his friends, unit and school to go face a battle that someone his age should not even be concerned about.”
Villalba said he has been blown away by the generosity of the community.
“Even today, I just cannot comprehend the generosity and love that this community has provided to me,” Villalba said in a comment to The Battalion. “My family and I could not be more proud to be a part of such a tight-knit and supportive community.”
Since beginning his treatment, Villalba said his friends and family have been so supportive. 
“The biggest way my friends and family have supported me is through more simple and direct acts of kindness; for example, giving supportive comments, prayers, hugs, jokes, simple gifts like stuffed animals — they just give me a reason to smile and be happy despite these terrible circumstances,” Villalba said. “I actually have never felt more loved and supported in my life than right now. Regardless of the intense treatment, I have never been happier in my life.”
Additionally, he said his buddies in K-2 have been so supportive while he has been on campus and have helped him in any way they are able. 
“When I was back in the dorms, I couldn’t go 20 minutes without someone knocking on my door to come in, give me a hug and tell me they are here for me and to reach out if I needed anything, usually followed by an ‘I mean it.’ Everyone in K-2 was so passionate to help and I love them for it. I cannot reiterate enough how loved I feel and how happy I am to be a part of the Aggie, Corps and K-2 family,” Villalba said. “It’s no joke when people say the Aggie community is a family. Even only being in this family for less than a year, it really does feel like that.” 
With all the support he has received, Villalba said he cannot thank his Aggie family enough for the support and said he hopes to be able to pay it forward to another Aggie soon.
“Through their support I have been able to maintain ridiculously high spirits, begin treatment with a smile on my face and wake up every day feeling more loved and happy than I ever have,” Villalba said. “There is no amount of thanks I can give to each and every person, but I wish there was. Someday I hope to have the opportunity to be on the other end and help another struggling Aggie feel the same way I feel right now.”
Vasicek said she encourages the community to donate to the GoFundMe because the cost of cancer treatments is expensive and three rounds can add up to millions of dollars.
“Having to worry about cancer and go through chemotherapy is already stressful. He and his family should not have to worry about the payments involved with the treatments,” Vasicek said. “The true meaning behind Aggies help Aggies became clear after donations started coming in from past Aggies who did not even know [Villalba]. They were donating because A&M has high standards and one of our own is facing a battle, but he is not facing it alone — he has the Aggie community standing with him.”

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