He was just FUN.
Simply the nicest guy - always thinking of others.
Perpetually positive – he only saw the glass as ‘half full.’
He lit up a room. Family gatherings were just better with Brandon.
“I know it sounds so cliché, but it is so true,” said Brian Combs, Brandon’s lifelong friend since childhood. “He just made everything that much more FUN.”
Brandon Raabe was just 29 years old when he succumbed to neuroendocrine cancer, but within those short years, he left an indelible impression on everyone he met.
“Brandon was the only boy in a blended family that included four sisters – he’d often joke that even his DOG was a girl,” said his mom, Tricia Raabe. “He may have been outnumbered by all the women in his life, but it never stopped him from making each one of us feel special and loved, like we were the most important person in his world,” she added.
“When Brandon committed to something, he was ALL IN,” said his girlfriend, Kensie Smith.
“He was an avid soccer fan, and whether it was Tottenham Hotspur (English football club) or our own FC Cincinnati, he was wholly committed,” she added. “We actually met at the very first FC Cincinnati Soccer game, and to this day I will never pass up the opportunity to watch soccer and revel in the game the way Brandon did,” she said.
From his initial diagnosis through his treatments and his passing, Brandon’s NET journey was challenged by the COVID pandemic; however, the precarious circumstances did not prohibit Brandon from living his life to the fullest and achieving his personal and professional goals.
“When the Captem medication started working, he felt really good – we were all so hopeful. He finished his MBA and started a new job, we bought a house, things were looking up,” said Kensie.
“We took a few unbelievable trips together, including hiking five National Parks when he was sick,” said Brian. “He never let everything he was going through interfere with that experience; that’s just the way he was,” he added.
Brandon’s friends and family have raised nearly $50k in just over a year’s time.
Brandon and his sisters
Brandon and Brian
After Brandon’s passing in January 2021, Kensie and Brian set out to raise $25,000 to launch the Brandon Raabe Everlasting Tribute Fund at NETRF.
“We’d host soccer viewing parties and ask people for donations, and we sold wristbands that Brian designed that reflected what was important to Brandon: The Texas Longhorns, the University of Cincinnati logo (his alma mater) the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and their motto ‘to dare is to do,’ and two phrases from Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist: Follow your personal legend (identify your purpose in life and pursue it) and Maktub, an Arabic word that translates to ‘it is written,’ to convey one’s destiny,” she explained.
They set out to raise $25,000 and are now poised to double that amount. Since Brandon’s passing, his best friend, girlfriend and immediate family have raised more than $45,000 from over 240 people, and many donors have given more than once.
As Brandon’s 30th birthday approached, his parents offered to match each $30 donation in an effort to honor his special day. This resulted in their matching gift of over $6,000. “We were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity,” exclaimed Tricia. “I must include a very special thank you to an anonymous donor who gave us $5000; the overwhelming support from so many is an indescribable feeling,” she said.
“Brandon loved learning new things, whether it was in school or a new foreign country. In particular, his passion was history and he earned a teaching degree from the University of Cincinnati with the intent of being an educator,” said Tricia. “Additionally, he thoroughly enjoyed his career as an Admissions Counselor at Mount St. Joseph University while he pursued his goal of achieving an MBA. With his newest degree in hand, he moved on from academics to the business world and was ready to conquer new horizons. He was passionate about the power of knowledge.”
“We know that our mission now is to raise awareness and funds for neuroendocrine cancer in recognition of Brandon’s journey; we know that if we can help just one person in their NET journey, then we are keeping Brandon’s legacy alive, which I hope would make him proud,” said Brian.
Tricia, Kensie, Brian, and all of Brandon’s remarkable supporters continue to develop new and creative ways to raise money for NETRF in Brandon’s memory. Later this summer, Kensie is planning to host and run a 5k road race in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan to benefit NETRF and raise money in Brandon’s memory.
Brandon and Kensie
“Doing good for others on behalf of Brandon, that helps me move through my grief towards healing,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me wallow in my grief – he’d make me channel it into a positive change, and that is what motivates me each day,” said Kensie.