After harrowing COVID-19 battle, Lightning's anthem singer ready to take the ice

Nearly two months to the day after she left the hospital pledging to get her singing voice back, Sonya Bryson-Kirksey will be back to belt out the national anthem at Amalie Arena, after beating COVID-19.

"I am so excited, I don’t even know how to describe it anymore," Bryson-Kirksey said.

Photo courtesy Sonya Bryson-Kirksey

The beloved Tampa Bay Lightning anthem singer and Air Force veteran came down with the virus in mid-July. She was especially vulnerable because of her multiple sclerosis and spent 29 days hospitalized – including a week in the ICU.

"Your lungs – after you’ve had COVID-pneumonia, not just COVID, but COVID-pneumonia, you get new lungs," she said. "And I say that so people understand what you have to come back from."

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The 54-year-old has spent the last two months rehabbing with deep-breathing therapy, and essentially, re-training her lungs to sing the anthem.

"When I sing it, I have a certain cadence," she said. "So I had to get used to using my lungs to have that cadence again. To train both of my lungs and my diaphragm to do what it did before was kind of hard. So it’s been a long road."

She says she’s not 100 percent but getting there.

And when she takes the ice tonight, that feeling of gratitude will be right there alongside her.

"I know there are people that spent as much time in the hospital as I did that didn’t come home, and I’m grateful that I got my shots when I did, because I feel like that’s what kept me on the planet."

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