When we are in the hospital, life is turned upside down. If you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about. If you have not, you think you can imagine the craziness, but I would just about guarantee it’s even crazier than you can imagine.

But many of you do know, and the rest of you TRY to imagine. When we are inpatient, I am so very often asked “what can I do to help? what do you need?” People tell me they wish they could help but they are far away or don’t know what to do. And usually, people do find ways that may seem small but are actually SO huge to our family of things that help. Gas cards, grocery store cards, dropping off dinners once we are home, loading my front porch with toilet paper, driving my girls to dance – all of these things  and more – THAT is how we survive most hospitalizations. The trips back and forth to home from our hospital 3 hours one way eat through our gas budget like I can’t even explain.

This time is different though. What I NEED is just to have my baby wake up and be back to the Kendall who I was watching movies with just a few days ago. I NEED to hear her voice again. I NEED to have my family back together under the same roof. I just need her to wake all the up and be all the way ok and be here with me. I need to forget the horror of Friday night and I need to lose the mental images of her turning blue that are burned into my mind and I need to be done hearing the bad alarms.

I need a good long hard cry. I need four weeks straight of comatose sleep. I need my adrenal glands to have a break from their constant pumping of adrenaline throughout my body, making me jump at every little noise or beep or person moving too fast in my peripheral vision. I need to go on vacation like we had planned with my WHOLE family all together and i need a sushi date night with my amazing husband.

But these aren’t the answers to the questions so many of you are asking. Because what you really mean when you ask me what I need is “how can I help”?  And honestly sometimes I don’t know how to answer because I just don’t even know where to start. It is so so so hard to feel like i am “asking” for help. Because really, that is not what this is about.  It is about trying to help you all understand where we are at. This post is purely for those who have been asking how they can help.  It is very hard to disseminate information to a large network sometimes. It was part of the reason we created the Hope For Kendall page – because there were so many people who only wanted to be my facebook friend to know how Kendall was doing, and NOT because they wanted to hear about my coffee addictions or how a policeman stole my kitty off my front porch. We are pretty involved in our church, and then my parents’ church have been huge supporters of the Kendall Krew, and all my siblings spread around the country/world and THEIR churches, not to mention my friends, their churches…..etc.  As you can imagine, it is a pretty large network of people. I am NOT complaining. we only survive because of our amazing and wonderful network/community. I could never hope to repay or even properly thank so many people who have supported our family with their prayers, money, gifts, generosity…

It is so hard to feel like we are constantly going back to that well, and yet, people keep asking.

I said this last time and I’ll say it again now. I think a large part of why people want to help is because inherently as humans, we want to ease suffering. We can’t give every homeless person a home, but we can give $3 to the man on the freeway exit with the sign. There’s so many huge problems in this world, but if we all do a little bit, then big things can happen. You read our updates and you read the pain and you read the good times and you want to be a part of that – and that is SO awesome! We love that you are on this journey with us. Whether all you can offer is prayers or you can solve all our financial worries – every single prayer, every single penny, every single bag of m&m’s or rolls of toilet paper or 12 pack of coke – it is amazing.

We have been so very blessed by so many of you. It has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I feel undeserving to even ask for anything else, because really, our NEEDS are met. Kendall is making good progress and is out of the very scary place she’s been at the past few days. My other babies are as happy as I could hope for under the circumstances. We have two working cars that are taking us back and forth with no issues (knock on wood!) I have good friends who bring me non-salmonella containing meals and coke. And even though i did NOT pack any underwear, I had enough money to go to walmart this morning and buy a new pack. (Have I ever told you I overshare sometimes? Well, I do.) I even, in one of my biggest hardest challenges – had an amazing friend (who has another amazing friend) who downloaded my girls’ school shopping lists and got what they needed because chances are VERY good that I will not be able to take them school supply shopping between vacation ending and school starting. These are the things that are important.
So at this point, everything else seems just more of a “want”. A whim, a wish, a frivolity.

I wish that I had extra money to take the girls to build a bear to make a bear for their sissy like they asked. i wish we could go back to school clothes shopping for those special first day of school outfits. I wish I could make it up to them in some way all the craziness they have to endure. I wish their lives were a little more “normal”, even-keeled.

But then again, normal is over-rated.

For those who are really truly wanting to DO something, to try to help ease the craziness that comes with a story like Kendalls – here are a few things that are always needed. Again, please hear me that I am not trying to ask for anything above what we have already been blessed with. But I know it is hard to take away from some of you the ability to help, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our family. So here are some ideas.

Gas cards. Shell, BP, KwikTrip are the stations closest to both our house and the hospital.

Grocery store gift cards allow us to get snacks for the hospital room and for the big girls for the long trips back and forth. (We have Jewel/Albertsons, Dominicks/Safeway and Meijer by our house, and Pick-N-Save by the hospital)
Restaurant gift cards allow us to go out as a “half-family” when we all get to be together.

For home – once we get there, we usually try to keep everything as “sterile” as the hospital keeps it so she can ease back into building up her own immunities. Lysol spray, bleach wipes,  paper towels, laundry detergent – things like that are always helpful.  If you feel so led to contribute to the Kendall Quinn Medical Fund, deposits can be made to that account name c/o Ben or Terra Atkinson at any BMO Harris Bank branch. Any donations made to the Hope for Kendall Paypal account are used for her care also (

But there are so many other ways to help too – besides the most obvious and most amazing, your prayers!
Every time you share a post about Kendall’s story, and invite your friends to like her page, you are helping us add more people to the Kendall Krew – people who will learn about mito and be able to spread the knowledge they are gaining until it is a more known disease process.  Every time you put her on your church prayer list, you are helping storm Heaven for the sake of Kendall. Every time you leave me a message that Kendall’s story has inspired you to do something hard/live better/love stronger/repair relationships – you make this hard time a little bit easier to understand and handle.

Speaking of that – I’d LOVE to make a mural for Kendall’s room, that just has messages of how she’s inspired you on it. I’m going to put a post on Kendall’s FB page asking for your stories so I can start writing them out.

Other things – we are starting a Kendal Krew walking team for the UMDF (our mito disease organization) Energy For Life walk in September. We would love to have 50 walkers on our team! I will also link to that on Kendall’s page.

And the last thing I think is a Dodgeball Tournament coming up VERY soon that Special Spaces Chicagoland is putting on. Through this Dodgeball Tournament, they are hoping to raise funds for a VERY special room makeover for miss Kendall. Her medical equipment and needs make her room very “un-cute”, cluttered, and more closely resembling the supply closet of a hospital than a 4 year old princess loving little girl. This awesome organization has decided to take on the craziness of transforming Kendall’s room from what it is into something fit for a princess! We would love to have the Kendall Krew turn out in full force for that tournament to support their efforts!

This post has been interrupted by a coughing/choking/gagging Kendall about 14 times so I am not sure if it is coherent at all. It is my most sincere hope that it has not come out as ungrateful or offensive at all. Please know that it was not written to make anyone feel like they HAVE to do anything – it was written simply for those who have been asking, and for those who are being asked and have no idea how to answer.

our family will survive this because we will all be together. Everything else – frosting on the cake.
We could not do it without your prayers, love and support.

Thank you for being part of our story.

Terra, Ben and the Special K’s.

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  1. Oh Terra, you wrote this perfectly. How I wish I could walk with you all in the Energy for Life walk and be closer to help you out more – but know that I am sending prayers and love all the way from Australia. Your beautiful family have captured my heart and Miss Kendall is such a fighter.

    Make sure you look after yourself mama – and don’t be afraid to cry. We can’t be the strong one all the time <3 xx

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