Since she was four-and-a-half years old, Kendall has battled minimal change disease, which causes nephrotic syndrome—a life-threatening kidney disorder.
Medevaced three times to Seattle, put on countless medications and tri-annual trips from her home in Alaska to Seattle for treatment, Kendall is now in and out of remission. She continues to take daily meds, receives IV treatment as needed, and was recently medevaced again.
But for one week, Kendall and her family were able to focus on something other than her medical challenges. Thanks to a referral from the family’s pediatrician, Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington granted the eight-year-old’s wish to meet Bethany Hamilton, the famed surfer.
“She has always had an amazing attitude and outlook,” said her mom. “Her attitude is that other people have problems too and it could always be worse.”
An avid fan of the movie Soul Surfer, Kendall, a strong, athletic, and incredibly caring girl, was inspired by Hamilton’s own determination and perseverance after losing her arm and continuing to surf.
Flown from their home in Alaska, Make-A-Wish Hawaii welcomed Kendall and 10 other wish kids from across the nation. Kendall and the other kids spent a week at Surf Camp with Bethany Hamilton– in and out of the water, mingling with the Hanalei Bay community, Hamilton’s family, and her fellow surfer friends. Kendall even struck up a special bond with professional surfer, Keala Kennelly.
“All Kendall wanted to do was surf,” said her mom. “Even on their free day Kendall got back into the water with Keala. They had a really special bond.”
Now, with the trip over, she says her family still looks back on the trip as the best they’ve ever taken as it gave them a much-needed break. Even as Kendall and her family continue their fight against her disease, they give their unending appreciation to Make-A-Wish.
“It was something we didn’t realize we needed, but it was an amazing experience that changed us forever,” said Kendall’s mom.
Special Thanks: Make-A-Wish Hawaii, Surf Camp with Bethany Hamilton, Alaska Airlines, Volunteers Jodi Blakley and Dorothy Laiti.