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Saratoga County singer won’t let cystic fibrosis stand in the way of her dreams

June 20, 2018 06:12 PM

What's your passion? What's that one hobby or pastime that fuels your soul? Now imagine having a medical condition that could take it from you. A young woman from Saratoga County doesn't have to imagine. She lives it every day, but her spirit and determination, that's the "Upside" and it helped her defy the odds.

Sydney Reichart, 18, knew from a very young age that she loved to perform -- taking every opportunity to entertain.

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"I always wanted to be, like, front and center," she explained.

Singing, dancing and acting -- she calls it her sport.

That's how it feels for me. It's just an adrenaline rush. I'm, like, addicted to it. I just love it.

Every note Reichart belts out is a triumph. Some days, every deep breath is.

Reichart has cystic fibrosis.

"You look at Sydney, you don't see a thing wrong with Sydney," pointed out Francie Gransbury of Albany Medical Center. "You would never know she has a disease that's going to cut her life in half."

Complications are numerous -- affecting the digestive system, the liver and pancreas -- and perhaps most notably, respiratory function. It causes wheezing, coughing, sinus disease -- and lung infections. It's the kind of thing you would expect to end any aspirations of singing.

However, Reichart's medical team has become part of her family - and they've coordinated office visits and treatments around her performances - even in the middle of them.

"During intermission, she will give herself another nebulizer of a bronchodilator to open up those airways to help her and know that she can be clear," explained Gransbury.

As a result, for the last four years, Reichart has probably spent more time on stage than off, landing a variety of supporting roles in school and community musicals - with her sites set on scoring a lead before graduating high school. Two years ago, she started working with vocal coach Michael Lotano.

"Well she inspired me," he recalled.

Lotano says Reichart's determination has never wavered -- even when her breathing has.

"Even if she is struggling a little bit vocally or coughing and having fits of that, it's not even an issue for her. She just perseveres," he noted.

Some suggested she give up her dreams, saying that they might be too hard to achieve.

"Yeah, for sure that's definitely happened before where people were like, 'Oh, are you sure you'll be able to do that,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, watch me,'" noted Reichart.

The payoff is that lead role she wanted in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

Reichart knows she may not be able to completely beat cystic fibrosis, but she's not letting it beat her either.

"I would love to be like, I'll be on Broadway someday, but that's just a huge dream,"  she acknowledged. "I definitely haven't given up on it yet, so who knows."

Reichart's medical team says all of her singing and vocal coaching has actually improved her health. That passion of hers is fueling more than just her soul.

Credits

Jerry Gretzinger

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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