It took more than three months for members of the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame Committee to keep a date with 12-year-old Bella Muñoz of Stony Point, but the reason for the delay was a lifesaver.
When the Sports Hall of Fame celebrated its class of 2018 at a banquet in April, the induction dinner also served as a fundraiser for Bella, who at the time was waiting for a desperately needed heart transplant.
Bella’s situation came to the attention of the Sports Hall of Fame Committee in part because her dad, Marcos, now a corrections officer with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, was remembered for his days starring for the baseball team at North Rockland High School, the OTB Pirates American Legion team and a stint in the New York Yankees organization. Bella played softball herself until her heart started to fail in 2015.
Committee members had planned to present a check for $2,750 to Bella’s parents, Marcos and Kristen Muñoz, on May 10, but fate intervened – in the best possible way.
Just a day before that meeting, the Muñoz family got word their prayers had been answered. Doctors at New York Presbyterian had found a new heart for the vibrant preteen, who already had several procedures to install devices to assist her disease-weakened heart.
Of course, that delayed the check presentation until Bella had recovered from the transplant and doctors were convinced that she was progressing as intended.
Finally on Aug. 16, Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Peter Scheibner, Treasurer Peter Castellano and committee member Bob Baird visited with Bella, her parents, sister Natalie assorted family and friends to present the check to assist with her medical expenses.
Bella has enjoyed the summer and has even been cleared for recreational sports and a return to school in September, when she will be an 8th grader at Fieldstone Middle School.