Two Sisters with Cystic Fibrosis Inspire and Entertain on “America’s Got Talent”


Two sisters, both plagued by cystic fibrosis, had the night of their lives on June 23, 2010, when they auditioned for America’s Got Talent. In a moving and inspirational performance that brought the audience, as well as judge Howie Mandel, to their feet, Christina and Ali sang their message of hope, strength and courage for all the world to see. I cannot watch these girls sing without being moved to tears.

Ali, 20, says in the video:

The average life expectancy [of cystic fibrosis] is mid-to-late thirties, but we can enjoy every minute together that we have. And if we pursue our dreams, then it will give us something to look forward to instead of dwelling on our disease.

Ali then emphasized:

Cystic fibrosis does not define us; we define ourselves. . . . I want the judges to look beyond everything, to just see us for who we are.

Here’s how Neil Katz of CBS News story described the sisters and their special night:

Christina and Ali, two sisters with a deadly lung disease, took the judges’ breath away Wednesday night on “America’s Got Talent.”

The girls, 13 and 20, have a genetic disorder called cystic fibrosis. They didn’t know if they would live long enough to make it to the stage, let alone have the strength to sing. But sing they did—a Miley Cyrus song called “The Climb.”

“I love to sing,” says Christina with a glowing smile. “You are in a totally different world.”

“I want the judges to look beyond everything, says Ali. “And just see us for who we are.”

And they did.

“We were told since we were little we would never be able to sing,” Ali told the judges after her performance.

Judge Sharon Osbourne replied, “You’ve proven them wrong, haven’t you.”

Judge Howie Mandel, who stood for most of the performance, said, “I want for you anything you want in life.”

About 30,000 Americans, and 70,000 people worldwide, are living with cystic fibrosis, caused by inheriting a flawed gene from each parent. The disease causes a sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, clogging them and leading to life-threatening infections. It also clogs the pancreas so the body can’t properly digest food.

Only a few decades ago, children with CF seldom survived elementary school. Today, thanks to earlier diagnosis and improved treatments, 47 percent reach 18 or older. Most of the 400 deaths a year are among teenagers and young adults, according to the CF Foundation’s registry.

As for Christina and Ali, their story is only beginning. By unanimous decision, the judges sent them on to Las Vegas, where they will compete to become “America’s Got Talent’s” next champions and hopefully, breathe a little easier.

“If we pursue our dreams, it will give us something to look forward to rather than dwell on our disease,” says Ali. “Cystic fibrosis does not define us. We define ourselves.”

Click here to visit Christina and Ali’s website for all the recent news and info about the singing sisters, including their upcoming album!


Frank Deford, chairman emeritus of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

While watching Christina and Ali, I couldn’t help but think of Alex Deford, who succumbed to cystic fibrosis at age eight. I interviewed her father, sportswriter Frank Deford, about Alex for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Frank’s poignant account of Alex’s courage is one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard. Click here to read an excerpt from Frank’s story.

Click here to view the best acts from The X Factor, America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent.


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