Young Girl Finds Escape in Figuring Skating from Extreme Allergy

12-year-old Kendall Hollenger, who battles numerous dangerous food allergies, finds her home on the ice.ABC News
Twelve-year-old Kendall Hollenger, who battles numerous dangerous food allergies, finds her home on the ice.

On the ice, she's a force to be reckoned with, and nothing can stop her. But off the rink, 12-year-old Kendall Hollenger navigates a world where harmless, everyday things can kill her.

"There's been times where I have literally wanted to scream because I am in so much pain ," said Kendall.

Kendall is in pain because she is allergic to almost everything. Not only could 95 percent of food make her sick, but anything that food has come in contact with could also be dangerous to her.

VIDEO: Struggling With Extreme Food AllergiesPlay

"She will have respiratory distress, lose her voice and she has also had loss of consciousness, trouble breathing, and turn blue and pale," said Kendall's doctor, Michael Kaplan, who is with the Department of Allergy at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles..

It's so severe that Kendall must eat primarily through a feeding tube, the only way to ultimately ensure that the food will be safe for her.

Kendall's mother, Kim Hollenger, morphed from being a regular mother into a 24-hour care provider.

"You just wonder how you will get through the day," Hollenger said. "You go through days without sleep and worry and fear. The hardest part is just that I want to switch places with her."

For a young girl allergic to almost everything, the world is a very dangerous place.

She can have a reaction just from touching a surface where food she is allergic to has been.

Sometimes the air itself can be lethal. Certain airborne particles can send her into anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that slowly closes her throat.

She has almost died from such reactions numerous times.

No parent expects to see their child ever face death, but Hollenger has already seen her daughter come face to face with death eight times before she even turned 12 years old.

"The hardest part is hearing her say, 'Please don't let me die. Please, don't let me die.' She says it over and over," Hollenger said. "And the whole time I'm trying to put on a face that everything is OK."

Girl With Deadly Allergy Finds Serenity on Ice

After each incident, Kendall has bounced back and since she was 5 years old, she has channeled that fighting spirit onto the ice, where she has found solace and strength in skating.

"It's kind of like my little safe zone. Because I'm away from everything I'm allergic to," Kendall said. "It's home to me."

For a few hours every day, amid the spins, jumps and axels, Kendall said, she feels untouchable.

"I think that the word would be perseverance," she said. "Just my whole life the biggest thing is trying to keep fighting because I'm lucky I'm here."

While the ice is a refuge for Kendall, it can be a cleaning nightmare for her mother. Behind the scenes, before every competition, Hollenger frantically wipes down any surface her daughter might come into contact with. Even on the ice, there can be dangers.

But, it isn't all fears and struggles for Kendall and her family. Her final meet of the season, Kendall skated her way to a second-place finish, proving that in a world filled with challenges, she's ready to meet them.

"All I know, whatever she does, she is going to be completely successful at it, 'cause the kid's got an amazing heart and a will to make things happen. And she will make it happen," said Kendall's father, Tim Hollenger.

"This is a part of me. This is who I've become. It makes me who I am, and I'm glad I'm this strong," Kendall said. "It's going to pay off some day."