MOYOCK, N.C. - A 14-year-old girl is finding support from an unlikely source in her fight against rare, chronic illnesses.
Kendal Hudson had it all when she started at Moyock Middle School two years ago. She had good grades, was a cheerleader and had lots of friends.
Then things started to change.
"I started getting really lightheaded and I started having headaches all the time and I didn't tell my mom because I was in cheer," she said. "(During cheer) I was dropped. It happens, [but] from there I got really sick."
After numerous trips to doctors to find out what was wrong, last January Kendal learned she had Chiari Malformation -- that her skull was too small for her brain.
Within months she was also diagnosed with other rare conditions like idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), where pressure around the brain increases, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which weakens connective tissue. Due to the high number of rare conditions she suffers from Kendal says doctors call her a 'unicorn'.
Treatment meant flying back-and-forth to New York. The now eighth-grader has had six surgeries - including five brain surgeries - since October.
Kendal is now home recovering, but has been out of school for more than a year and says some people have forgotten about her.
"It's been really hard I've lost a lot of people who I thought were my friends," she said.
Now the community in the Western Branch section of Chesapeake is coming together to show support.
"That just really hit home with me and I was like this can't be," said Julie Rauch, a mother of four who also suffers from IIH, Ehlers-Danlos and other conditions.
"It's pain, it's fatigue, it's brain fog."
Rauch met Kendal's mom through a Facebook support group she helps run. When she learned about the lack of support she got an idea to collect handmade postcards for Kendal.
"Called all of the girls over who have the same illnesses and we got together and we made the little boxes and started taking them out to different businesses," said Rauch.
Some of the locations include Starbucks and Tropical Smoothie Café on Chesapeake Square Ring Road and the Chick-fil-A in Edinburgh.
Since she began collecting last week, Rauch says hundreds of people have dropped postcards in boxes offering positive messages of support for Kendal.
The plan is for Rauch to deliver the cards in person to Kendal and her family this weekend.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Kendal's family with medical bills.