is a triple threat: ice skater, singer and spiritual warrior. At 16
she glides across the ice with a winning smile and plenty of tricks
up her sleevesall honed over the 11 years shes made the
rink her second home. Neither a broken bone, nor a rump-chilling fall
fazes this California girl, a top skater in her region. Even the fact
that shes allergic to more than 95 percent of foods and many
airborne allergens doesnt slow her roll. ABILITYs
Lia Martirosyan caught up with the rising star.
Lia Martirosyan: Whats a typical day in the life of Kendall
Kendall Hollinger: I get up, take my nutritional formula and medicine,
and then eat via a feeding tube. After that I go to the rink and skate
for a few hours. Im home-hospital schooled in the afternoons;
I might also have a vocal lesson at my church and then I do lots of
Martirosyan: Have you ever attended a conventional school?
Hollinger: No, the day I went to get my school photos taken in kindergarten,
I broke out in hives walking through the hall. So my doctors said
that, at that time, my going to school was not safe and that maybe
I could try again once I got to middle or high school. So when I turned
11, my allergic reactions were still so severe and numerous that my
allergist didnt think it would be a good idea.
By then, I wanted to stick with the education I was getting, because
it would have been hard to say goodbye to the teachers Id had
for so long. After another three years passed, we considered school
a third time; we even looked into my getting a peanut-allergy-sniffing
dog, because they have those now. But again, it didnt work out.
I think Ill definitely go to college.
Martirosyan: Physically attending school is overrated; as long
as youre self-motivated, youll get that degree! Have you
Hollinger: When I was two days old, I stopped breathing. My mom and
dad panicked; they didnt know what happened. Doctors didnt
know either. But I had really, really bad acid reflux from my allergic
reaction to my moms breast milk. I continued to have allergic
reactions to food and when I was about two years old, they finally
did blood and food testing, and found out that I had an anaphylactic
reaction to 95 percent of all food. And then when I was three and
a half, I got my feeding tube placed, because I failed to thrive-weighing
about 25 pounds at that point. I was really skinny and I wasnt
getting my nutrition, because I couldnt eat anything.
Martirosyan: Are on a liquid diet?
Hollinger: I can eat some things now and thats why I got the
feeding tube, because they put formulas into that, which helped me
grow and kept me alive. I can eat the 5 percent of foods that Im
not allergic to: chicken, rice, potatoes, turkey and beef. I can have
a good amount of food. My favorite thing is potatoes. I put them in
everything. And the only allergies I ever outgrew were milk and dairy,
so I can have, like, chocolate; thats my favorite. Its
my little treat. When everyone else, like, at birthday parties is
eating cake, Ill be in the corner with my Hersheys bar.
And they always want my stuff, and Im like, But you can
have the cake! The grass always looks greener on the other side.
Martirosyan: So what keeps you going?
Hollinger: My faith in God, my family and the support of my friends.
I have two mottos. The first is: believe fearlessly. Never give up
on a dream because it can happen. I was six when I stepped out on
that ice, and I never would have thought that it would turn into this
dream that I love so much. I dont know how it happened, but
Im so happy and blessed to have this sport. My other motto is:
You dont live to eat; you eat to live. Any way that you can
get your nutrition is good.
Ive met other kids with food allergies and theyve taught
me a lot about handling everyday things. They inspire me.
Martirosyan: Do you follow a set schedule for nourishment?
Hollinger: When I was little, I had a feeding pump, so I was on the
formula 24/7. As I got older, it became harder, because I didnt
want to have a pump on my back when I skated. Thats when I started
doing gravity feed, where I hook my tube up and pour formula down
into my stomach. I do that about four times a day. So this goes on
throughout the day, like breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ill normally
need extra formula before school because Im so exhausted from
skating. But afterwards, I definitely have more energy; its
just like after eating a big meal.
I have a sweet tooth. Mainly I eat Hersheys bars. Hersheys
actually built a wall in their facility to separate nut products from
milk products, so thank goodness they did that because now I can have
chocolate bars. (laughs)
Martirosyan: How did your allergies reveal themselves?
Hollinger: My doctors have done a lot of studies and theyre
still researching food allergies, because its a growing problem.
I think there are about 15 million Americans with food allergies.
Its funny because I tend not to have allergies to the things
that I eat a lot, but then one day I can wake up, eat one of them
and be allergic. Like, I used to have tomato all the time. I would
eat tomato sauce on my spaghetti or ketchup on French fries. And then
one day I was eating a cheese pizza, and I had a really bad reaction.
Ever since, my lips swell whenever I eat tomato. We had blood testing
done, and sure enough I was allergic to tomato.
Martirosyan: Do you have a variety of reactions?
Hollinger: I have different reactions to different things, Im
deathly, deathly allergic to any type of nut or seed, eggs, soy and
pork. When it comes to nuts, even breathing them or touching them
makes my face swell up, the worst part is that my throat swells up
and I stop breathing. Ive almost lost my life eight times, which
Im really careful about not ever eating something Im allergic
to; I check labels and ask chefs whats in a dish to be sure.
One of my worst reactions happened at the rink when I came for a skating
lesson with my coach; all of a sudden I started feeling like I was
going to pass out. I can only guess that what happened was I touched
the music player and then wiped my eye and one of the other girls,
who had eaten a brownie with nuts, touched the music player before
I did. A few minutes later I was on the ground and the paramedics
were working on me.
My mom gave me my EpiPena shot of epinephrineto revive
me. It was hard because the rink has always been my safe zone. So
when all of a sudden it wasnt, that took a lot to get over,
but I came back the next day and was like, This is not going
to be ruined. This is my happy place! Now, before I touch the
music player or the wall, I wipe it down with a wet wipe, so I dont
come in contact with any food or nut residue that could be on it.
Martirosyan: Bacteria doesnt thrive as well in cold environments,
do you think this is why the ice works for you?
Hollinger: Yeah, thats what we thought when I started skating
at six. I had convinced my mom to take me to an ice skating class.
My dad was skeptical. I think she should try it, but lets
be careful, he said. He was really worried that I was going
to fall on my stomach and hurt my tube or something. And the doctors
were just like, No, never. Youre not doing that.
I was like, Why? I wanted to skate so badly. I watched
Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen on TV during the 2003 world competition,
and I remember giving my mom a look like: I want to do that.
And then one day I did. (laughs)
Martirosyan: Michelle and Sasha are your idols in the figure skating
Hollinger: For sure. And Joannie Rochette, she skates for Canada,
she really inspired me too, because her mom passed away right before
she went to the Olympics and she had to skate through that, it was
the most inspiring thing Id ever seen. She had tears coming
down her face during her performance and she conquered that. It showed
me that no matter what youre going through, no matter what your
trial is, you can overcome it. The ice is such a good place to get
it all out of you.
Martirosyan: How far do you plan on taking this?
Hollinger: Im currently third in my region after competing last
September in Arizona. I trained all season and landed my double jumps
and I was so happy. It was fun to fly there with three of my best
friends and though we compete against each other, were still
so supportive of each other. I think this sport can be really difficult
because were a bunch of girls the same age, going for the same
titles, in the same competitions. I try to stay away from those thoughts,
though. Now, my goal is to get more double jumps, work on my double
axels, and then maybe some day to go to nationals and the Olympics.
Martirosyan: What else do you enjoy?
Hollinger: Im a singer and I love performing in my church.
Martirosyan: How long have you been singing?
Hollinger: My whole life, but I didnt actually start taking
vocal training or vocal lessons until a year and a half ago. My grandpa
sang opera and my grandmas a concert pianist, so Ive grown
up around music. My grandpas actually in charge of all the music
for Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. He transitioned from opera to gospel,
bringing the opera into gospel. My grandma plays and my grandpa sings,
and they have recorded a few CDs. Sometimes I get to sing with them
Martirosyan: Do you ever think about taking part in singing competitions?
Hollinger: Yeah. I actually auditioned for The Voice a year ago. It
was hard, because I went in and I guess they had viewed a video of
me singing before. They said, Youre going through. They
just need to review your audition. So I came in, had my cowboy
boots on and gave it all I had. They said that they really loved my
voice and my style of music, but it wasnt what they were looking
for for the show.
Fortunately, it wasnt one of those cattle calls, where its
like, Number 205, and you just start singing. Id
heard thats what some shows are like. The Voice was actually
a good experience, because Id never auditioned for singing before,
the producer was really nice, and everyone in the room clapped for
a Free Digi Issue and read the full magazine, and see all of the photos,
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from the Amy
Charles Limb, MD Jazzology & Your Brain
CSUN This is Your Future
Amy Brenneman Chiming In
HE Fahed Bin Al Shaikh Autism
in the UAE
Allergies on Ice
in the Amy Brenneman Issue; Geri Jewell Spring Into Action;
Ashley Fiolek Making the Move; Humor A Tail of Two Kitties:
CSUN This is Your Future: Long Haul Paul Riding the
MS Trail: Tony Spineto You Say Club Foot, I Say Marathon: DRLC
Federal Wellness Programs: Kendall Hollinger Allergies
on Ice: Charles Limb, MD Jazzology & Your Brain: China
A Familys Story of Strength: Scotty Enyart PhD
the Hard Way: Amy Brenneman Chiming In: HE Fahed Bin Al Shaikh
Autism in the UAE: Caroline McGraw Finding the Gifts
in Everyonet; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences...