Team Kendal showed just how big it is.
More than 500 packed the for a charity hockey game Saturday in honor of the late Kendal Lividini, a Hartland High School junior who died Jan. 7 after a nine-month fight against leukemia.
“This means more than words can say,” said Kendal's father, John, told the crowd before the game that featured a Red Wings alumni team vs. alumni from Hartland prep teams.
“Seems like for what everybody’s done saying thank you is not enough. People in our community keep doing and doing. It’s an overwhelming feeling."
Jake Lividini, Kendal’s brother, may have had the best seat in the house. Jake sat on the bench with Red Wing great Joey Kocur. He was also given a signed Pavel Datsyuk jersey. In the end, the Wings alumni defeated Hartland 7-6.
The game was the latest in a series of fundraisers the community has held to benefit Kendal and the Lividini family to help off-set medical expenses. The support has ranged from prayer vigils and balloon launches to moments of silence before high school sporting events.
“We’re very proud. This is an amazing community. The people here have huge hearts,” said Heather, Kendal's mom. “They’re the most giving people I’ve ever known. They’ve made a very difficult process a lot easier it’s just incredible. We’re very blessed.”
The family, which is planning a book to tell their daughter's story, also said a portion of the proceeds from the game will benefit Team Kendal Kidz, a new charity that will support children cancer research.
“That’s what they need most, a cure," Heather said. "Kendal was always concerned about making sure these kids are happy. Putting a smile on their face was a big thing to her.”
Saturday's fundraiser also likely would have made Kendal smile, friends say. She was a big fan of the Hartland High School hockey team. Each member of the current team attended her funeral. The boys wear a patch on their jerseys in her honor.
Hartland senior Zak Bodziak, who leads the team in points, was one of Kendal's good friends.
“I was pretty close with Kendal. This meant a lot," said Bodziak about the charity game. "The turnout wasn’t a big surprise. Everyone liked Kendal … She (Kendal) liked hockey a lot. She loved coming out and watching us play. She would have enjoyed this."