HUNTERSVILLE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - It was a packed Huntersville town board meeting Monday night. Among the crowd was Kenny and Sue Colbert, with a picture of their daughter Kenan.
"I just think she is looking down on us and said mom and dad, stay after it. There is something there and keep going. We will make progress at some point along the way," said Kenny Colbert.
The two always carry a picture of Kenan with them, who lost her life to ocular melanoma in 2014.
"She met the love of her life when she had a job in Charleston, South Carolina," said her mother, Sue.
Kenan moved to Huntersville when she was 10 years-old and was diagnosed with the rare eye cancer at age 23. 11 others in Huntersville have also been diagnosed with the same cancer.
Three of them attended school at Hopewell High School in Huntersville. The state tested soil in and around the school in 2016, but nothing was found.
"The doctors say all along this would be a long process and quite honestly we may never in our lifetime find a cause," said Kenny Colbert.
Now a one $100,000 research grant approved by the Huntersville Town Board in April is starting to take shape.
"We want answers to the community probably more than the medical world," said the doctor leading the research.
The doctor said soil samples aren't his focus. Instead, he's using genetic testing. He admits the process has been slow and any solid answers are still months away.
"The ultimate goal is to find a cure," said Sue Colbert.
The Colbert family is just glad the research is finally being done.
"Progress is being made. So that's the exciting thing," said Kenny Colbert.
The doctor leading the study says two patients have asked not to be included in the research, but the study will going on with other patients in a 15 mile radius, including areas just outside Huntersville.