Team Kendal sends Prayers, Support and Love with Balloons
Friends gather to show love for their sarcastic, funny, brave, multitalented friend.
Orange balloons signed with hand-written messages of love and support floated into the night sky as a group of approximately 30 high school students stood together in a tight circle, praying for one of their own.
As Hartland High School junior Kendal Lividini sat in her hospital room at the University of Michigan, waiting for word from her doctors regarding her fight against leukemia, her close friends came together Thursday night in the parking lot of the high school in a show of solidarity.
On Tuesday, the 16-year-old and her family will hear the test results regarding the pneumonia she is currently being treated for. If the medication she has been taking since mid-October has made her healthy enough, the next step in her battle with cancer will begin. In the meantime, Kendal remains separated from some of the most important people in her life.
"I miss her smile," said junior Abbey Tierney. "Her smile is contagious 'cause when she smiles, everyone else smiles."
In any group of close-knit girlfriends, you always need the sarcastic soul with a heart of gold to make it complete. That is who Kendal is to her friends. The funny one who loves Totino pizza rolls and her dog, Max. The one who can quote any line from the movie The Hangover and the one who dreams of marrying pro-skateboarder, Ryan Sheckler, one day.
"She still cares about everyone else and cares about what is going on with everyone even though she is so sick," junior Kylie Gowell said. "She called me and told me she still needed to give me my birthday present."
On April 9, 2010, after a family vacation in Florida, Kendal discovered she was no longer in the decade-long remission from her first battle with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), and that a new fight had just begun. Instead of a relapse, however, which is what doctors' first thought was the case, Livindi has since been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
"I do not understand why I have been dealt these cards but I am capable of anything and I will beat this," Kendal posted on her Facebook wall hours after receiving the news.
A bone marrow transplant from Kendal's 11-year-old brother, Jake, is what doctors and family are waiting for and why it is so important for Kendal to fully recover from her pneumonia.
"We are very fortunate that her brother is an almost perfect match," wrote Kendal's father, John, on a website called Team Kendal that's dedicated to her medical fight. "We thank God for this blessing and Jake is very excited to be able to give his sister the greatest gift of all!"
During the past six months, communication between Kendal and friends has been limited to text messages, Facebook and on occasion, short hospital visits from friends who bring their ukuleles.
"It started the first time I visited her," said junior Ben Potrykus. "We brought our ukuleles and attempted to sing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' And then, after that every time we went, we would try playing."
Kendal's absence is something that has not just affected her friends, however, but is felt throughout the whole Hartland High School.
"Everyone supports Kendal," said junior Rosalie Steinmetz. "We all have our Team Kendal shirts that we wear."
Tierney said support for Kendal brings people together.
"Walking through the hall is just such an experience," she said. "It's so nice to see people come together and support her. People who aren't even friends come together."
With prayers and well-wishes sent, Kendal supporters can only wait for Tuesday's result, which will reveal if the bone-marrow transplant can take place sometime soon.
Hopeful friends already have plans for the reunion party, however, that will be filled with Kendal's favorite food — tacquitos and cookie dough ice cream.
Before releasing her balloons, Steinmetz addressed the crowd praying for good news on Tuesday and a speedy recovery for her friend. As the balloons floated away, all several could say was "We miss you."