Oklahoma teen to ride in Rose Parade; how her health journey landed her the opportunity

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An opportunity of a lifetime: An Oklahoma teen will ride in this year’s Rose Parade on January 1.

16-year-old Sydney Borchardt will be riding on the Shriners Hospitals for Children float.

For the last several months, Sydney has traveled across the country as a national patient ambassador for Shriners, telling others about how the hospital helped her scoliosis with a new surgery.

(Sydney Borchardt’s scoliosis comparison. Photo: Melissa Borchardt)

Sydney’s health journey started six years ago. At age 10 she was diagnosed with scoliosis.

“So for two years, I wore a back brace from ten to twelve and 23 hours a day,” said Sydney.

But the brace didn’t keep her scoliosis from progressing, going from an 18 degree curve to 43 degrees.

Her parents then realized that spinal fusion for the 12-year-old daughter may become a reality. But before taking that step, Sydney’s mother, Melissa, turned to a social media group for guidance.

“I met a fellow Oklahoman named Kyle, and he told me that you need to go to Shriners and they have a new procedure called Vertebral Body Tethering,” said Melissa.

(Sydney Borchardt after her surgery at Shriners Philadelphia. Photo: Melissa Borchardt)

The VBT surgery, although not approved by the FDA at the time, was a success.

“I was able to breathe after my surgery, and that was probably the best feeling and best outcome of the surgery,” said Sydney.

Sydney was then able to resume a normal life: playing in band and holding a support group, Curvy Girls, for other young girls with scoliosis.

But she and her family never forgot the generosity of Shriners.

“We started doing some fundraisers and doing some other things, just a small part to help them out,” said Melissa.

Shriners took notice, naming Sydney one of their national ambassadors this year.

“I couldn’t even believe that I was picked, and it’s just such an honor because I feel like they’ve done so much for me,” said Sydney. “So me going around, speaking, traveling is a little like a little part of what I can do. It doesn’t even compare to what they’ve done for me, but this is a little thank you I can give them.”

From golf tournaments in Las Vegas, to now the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Sydney is proud to give back and represent her home state.

“I’ll get to decorate the float and then I’ll get to be on it and wave and do all the fun things,” said Sydney. “And then we are actually invited to go to the game and I’m sure about where that we’ll meet some of the players.”

It’s been a wild ride for Sydney and her family. From feeling defeated six years ago, to now traveling the country, happy and healthy.

“I remember when I was ten years old, I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this,’ but it has led to so much more,” said Sydney. “So bad things can lead to good things, and that’s a really cool lesson I learned at such a young age.”