Most kids his age enjoy the same pursuits he does. Recording music with his drums, playing basketball, hiking, and running are some of his favorite pastimes. 12-year-old, Kendall, is an outgoing and active boy. He purposely exercises 6 days a week. But, unlike other children, the benefit of his hard work isn’t just for sports or to keep healthy. No, Kendall’s training is geared toward helping those in need. He’s training to promote Liver Disease Awareness for the American Liver Foundation.
Kendall’s motivation to promote Liver Disease Awareness began when he learned that his mother was infected with Hepatitis C. Carleen McGuffey had been living with the disease unaware for about 25 years. “I felt sad that my mom had hepatitis C,” Kendall says, “but we didn’t know a whole lot about the disease, most people don’t. Once we got more information it got a lot more serious.” It’s estimated that 75% of people who have hepatitis C don’t know they are carrying the virus.
Carleen almost died after a routine Liver Biopsy and Kendall spent countless hours assisting his mom around the house and taking care of her but didn’t feel like it was enough. With his mother as the driving force in his resolve, he chose to do more. In June, alongside his father and others, Kendall will be climbing Mount Shasta as part of the ALF’s Liver Life Challenge. This 14,162 ft. mountain is sure to be a challenge for Kendall, but he’s up to the task. Already having conquered around ten 14ers in his young life, he has a lot of experience. Yet, he’s training hard to be able to make to the summit because this mountain is special, it’s not just a mountain it’s a mission of the heart for this young man.
Through all of his training and the climb, Kendall says he had two things he personally wants to promote. The first is to never give up. “You can do hard things,” he says, “I’m only 12 and it’s going to be hard to climb Shasta. People on treatment for liver diseases have it hard too. But, we can all get through hard things.” Second, Kendall wants people to take liver disease seriously. Approximately 30 million people are affected by liver disease and it’s one the top 10 causes of death in America. It’s important to get tested and look out for yourself.
The two most difficult aspects of Kendall’s mission are exercise and support. He needs help to promote liver disease through spreading the word and he needs donations to fund his cause. If you’re interested in being involved in Kendell’s climb please consider donating at climbingforcarleen.com. All donations go to the ALF. With your help, Kendall can make it to the summit and make the world a better place for people suffering from Liver Disease.
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