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Melville teen challenges Long Island to raise awareness for kidney disease

Sydney Levine of Melville, pictured with her brother

Sydney Levine of Melville, pictured with her brother Matthew. Sydney created a video challenge for Long Islanders to help raise awareness for kidney disease. Credit: Dana Levine

Sydney Levine of Melville isn't your typical 14-year-old. Sure, she's on the tennis team at Half Hollow Hills High School East and she takes dance lessons like many young girls her age, but in her spare time, you'll find her raising awareness for kidney disease.

She started the Stand Up and Be Counted challenge to help find a cure for FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) and Nephrotic Syndrome. FSGS is the leading cause of kidney failure in children.

Sydney began her crusade in early March to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for her brother Matthew, who was diagnosed with FSGS kidney disease at the age of 2. Now 11, Matthew loves tennis, golf and Disney World, like other young boys, but he also takes 15 pills a day, and his parents have to keep close tabs on his blood pressure, cholesterol and more. His kidneys are likely to fail and he will need a transplant. There is no known cause or cure for the disease.

In honor of Kidney Awareness Month, and Matthew's birthday month, Sydney posted a video on Facebook and Instagram, asking Long Islanders to make their own video stating that they're "standing up and being counted" to find a cure for FSGS. Similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you nominate five people to do the same, donate $5 or more to and post a #SUBCselfie on social media.

"I wanted to bring awareness and exposure to FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome," Sydney said. "I was hoping that if I could bring enough awareness and exposure to these two devastating kidney diseases I could help deliver a miracle of a cure for my brother Matthew and all those who suffer around the world from FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome. I don't want him to be in pain, go to the doctor all the time, have tests done and have to try different medications that make him sick. I want to help find a cure."

After the first three days, the video received 1,400 views on Facebook and more than 200 Instagram posts. Click below to view Sydney and Matthew's video to help raise awareness.


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