Sophomore turns life threatening situation into inspiring organization

Sophomore+turns+life+threatening+situation+into+inspiring+organization

By Aimee Buttenbaum, Co-T/E Life Editor

After waking up from anesthesia used for her angiogram, an X-ray photograph of blood vessels, sophomore Kendall Kemm ranted about how she loved Ellen DeGeneres and was extremely mad that she wasn’t there at the hospital with her. Her mother captured the moment on video, and when DeGeneres got wind of the situation, Kemm’s video was soon aired on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” for millions to see. 

Kemm was thrilled to see one of her and her brother’s favorite celebrities acknowledging her video and sending her support to their family, but Kemm’s journey had begun long before this. In 2015, Kemm was helping her mother blow up balloons for a Halloween costume when she realized her fingers were tingly.

“I figured it was because I lost feeling in my fingers from tying the balloons,” Kemm said. “The next day, we were going to the softball tournament, and I fell into the fridge getting my water.” 

At only 10 years old, Kemm was having a stroke. Another parent at the softball tournament ran her fingers up Kemm’s left and right calves to test for a difference in sensation, and advised that she go to the hospital immediately. 

“They rushed me into an MRI as soon as possible, and they ruled that it was an AVM (arteriovenous malformation), which is a clusters of veins that’s not supposed to be there, and then one of the veins had popped because I was blowing up the balloons, and that’s a lot of pressure on your head,” Kemm said. “Then I was in the hospital for twelve days because I couldn’t use my arm or my leg.”

During those twelve days, Kemm did physical therapy in the hospital and regained full mobility. After taking a few weeks off from school, Kemm was back to her normal routine. 

After her mother had researched many treatment options, Kemm ended up in Stanford, California, where she now returns for radiation treatment once every other year. 

“We just got back a few weeks ago because I did more radiation treatment, and because of the radiation treatment, I don’t have any ability to use my left arm and I have a little bit of a limp in my left leg,” Kemm said.

Throughout her journey, Kemm began learning more about her condition as well as other people who have it. Her mom posted her story on Facebook, and people began stepping up and reaching out to Kemm, saying how they were experiencing the same thing. 

“A bunch of people reached out, and my mom had started talking with them, and then we met with them because it can be lonely at times,” Kemm said. “We met one kid at Starbucks, and we drove down to Virginia to meet another girl which was really cool.”

As Kemm and her mother began seeing other children who couldn’t afford the same treatment Kemm was receiving, they decided to create Kendall’s Crusade in 2017, an organization that strives to raise awareness about AVMs and aneurysms while financially supporting research and families who need help getting treatment. 

“My mom and I started it so we could help other kids get the same treatment that I could get as a family so they could all go out and get it at Stanford or wherever they want to,” Kemm said. 

As Kemm has turned one of her life struggles into an organization to help others in a similar position, she is grateful for the support system around her, which helps her to be the positive person she is today. 

“It’s definitely hard, but the nurses at hospitals are really helpful because they know what to do,” Kemm said. “The twelve days that I was in the hospital, at first, we had a wagon full of presents come out of the hospital because we didn’t have enough hands. Everyone’s so supportive.”


Aimee Buttenbaum can be reached at [email protected].