A game to remember
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jul 29, 2014, 15:24
HOPEWELL — Over a year ago Kendall Wilmot’s heart stopped. The 2010 graduate of Hopewell High School, valedictorian and varsity field hockey player, was beloved by many and is still missed. Her mother, Patty Moore, said though she lost a daughter, she knows Kendall is still with her each and every day.
Kendall was diagnosed with long QT syndrome, which is a heart rhythm disorder and can cause fast and chaotic heartbeats. The rapid heartbeats lead to a person fainting or even a seizure. If the heart beats erratically for a long period of time, it can cause sudden death.
A week prior to her passing, Kendall was in the hospital for her heart, in which it would beat slowly and then stop. She was sent home with a life vest which she wore every hour of the day; if her heart were to get out of rhythm, the vest would send a shock to her heart to get it beating regularly.
On the evening of June 4 while watching “A Walk to Remember,” Kendall’s heart stopped and she was rushed to the hospital. It was found after the autopsy that she had mitral valve prolapse.
With this condition, a person’s valve between the left upper chamber of the heart and the left lower chamber does not close properly. Kendall was scheduled to have surgery on June 5 to receive an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or pacemaker-like device. Kendall never had the chance to go to surgery.
“It’s been a very difficult year for all of her family and her friends because she made such an impact on so many people,” Moore said. “Losing a child takes a part of your heart away.”
In the weeks following her passing last year, Kendall’s father Ted Wilmot said her death was to give someone else everlasting love.
“I think her heart stopped because she gave it away,” Ted said last year. “She was so kind and so generous.”
And Kendall’s generosity and giving spirit has endured since her death last year. Kendall had registered as an organ donor and through her death, four people received a new life.
“Kendall is an angel watching over so many people and serving God,” Moore said. “And she gave back a fulfilling life to four people by donating her organs through LifeNet organization.”
Kendall is also giving back through a scholarship set up in her honor, The Kendall Carroll Wilmot Starfish Memorial Scholarship fund. A $1,000 scholarship was awarded this past year to Brittany McConnell.
As for the starfish in the name, Moore said that comes from the story of a man on the beach who walks down the shore throwing starfish back into the ocean, because when the sun’s rays hit the starfish they will dry up and die.
As he is doing this a man walking behind him asks him why he is doing that, as there are hundreds of starfish and how could he possibly make a difference. The man picks up one, throws it and says, “But I can make a difference for this one.”
“Kendall always felt like everybody can make a difference. She always lived life to the fullest and just felt like everybody can make a difference to somebody else no matter how small, you can make a difference to somebody else,” Moore said of her daughter.
For the second year in a row, the annual Hopewell alumni field hockey game will be played in Kendall’s honor, with the money raised going towards her scholarship. Last year the scholarship raised over $7,000.
The game will be played this year on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Hopewell High School field hockey field and this year’s game will include not only Hopewell alumni but alumni from Prince George as well. The alumni will be facing the current team members from Hopewell High’s field hockey team.
“I think the game is a wonderful tribute to her and that this is a sport she loved and that her teammates were an important part of her life,” Moore said. “Not only were they teammates, they were her friends.”
Moore said alumni Sarah Butters, a former teammate of Kendall’s, has been “instrumental” in organizing the game and said it is touching that the girls are inspired to continue to memorialize their lost member.
Since her passing, Kendall has been memorialized not only through the field hockey game but through Virginia Tech as well. Kendall, 20, was a rising senior at Tech when she died suddenly. Through her academic standing and credits earned, Tech presented the family with her diploma with honors, Bachelor of Science in Business-Hospitality and Tourism Management, Magnum Cum Laude.
At the December 2013 commencement, her twin brother Daniel walked across the stage to accept his sister’s diploma, which the college had framed in her honor as well.
Moore said much of the memories she has of her daughter are of her and Daniel laughing and being best friends. In her valedictorian speech at Hopewell High, she highlighted her close relationship with her twin, a relationship that clearly touched her heart as she could not hold back tears while thanking her brother.
“This man, truly now a man, has been there with me through it all. From running back to the house when I fell off my bike to letting me cry on his shoulder. From cribs to twin beds, 18 years ago to now. He’s the most amazing guy I know and someone I look up to and lean on for everything.
“Everything in our lives has always been a competition and it’s because of him that I am where I am today. I want to thank this man, my brother, my best friend, my twin, Daniel Wilmot.”
The past year for Moore, and for those Kendall left behind has been difficult, but in the aftermath of grief came a new life. Moore said many have reached out to not only express their condolences but to share stories of how one 20-year-old, blonde with an infectious smile, touched their hearts.
“The positive things that came out of all of this is the outpouring of support that we’ve received from people that have come in contact with Kendall,” Moore said. “From best friends to acquaintances that she met in Europe that reached out to us that only knew her for one day.”
Though tears were streaming down her face while recalling memories of her daughter, they fell upon a smile that shone brightly.
“Kendall always found the good in every person. She loved children, she loved animals,” Moore said. “She was just one of those kids that I couldn’t really find fault in. She put her heart into anything and everything that she was involved in. She was a very loving and caring young woman. She a very outgoing personality. She could lighten up any room that she walked in.”