If Bill Brown hits her head, she could die. Golf is her haven.

Muncie, Indiana – If Bill Brown was hit in the head, her brain could start to bleed. If she falls only at a right angle, or knocks with her elbow …

If Bill Brown hits her head, she could die.

None of this is fair to Delta Junior. She was a fifth grade multi-athlete, and excelled in them all. Volleyball was her love. She was trying to join a travel team in Monciana when everything changed.

Her emotions changed. Its perspective changed. Now, you want to be one of the best golfers in Indiana. It is designed to achieve this.

“If I set a goal for myself, I know at the end of the day that I will achieve that goal, because of how much motivation I have for whatever I do,” she said.

* * *

Maybe it was the pillow.

That’s what her mother, Kelly Stitt, thought when Brown complained of a neck pain one Sunday in 2016. She was 11 and in fifth grade, and had just spent the night at a friend’s house. Two days later, on a Tuesday morning, she had a pea-sized swelling on her neck. During the middle of the day, Stitt received a text message from Belle’s PE teacher. The lump that was the size of a pea was the size of a golf ball.

State took her daughter to the doctor, where she was given antibiotics. The next morning, she woke up with a fever. The mass was larger. After another trip to the doctor, it was time to go to the hospital in Muncie for IV antibiotics.

The needle wouldn’t go into her arm – her veins were so small, she’d been glued eight times – so they put it in her neck. Run the tests and wait for the results. The doctors were nowhere to be found. Brown, who had never had a headache, started getting excruciating headaches.

Doctors think she may have lymphoma. They sent her to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for a biopsy.

After over a week in the hospital and still waiting for results, the doctor was ready to send Bell home where she might be more comfortable. That’s when her mother noticed peeling skin on her hands.

“It was such a light bulb that went out,” Stitt said.

Belle Brown

Belle Brown lines up a pitch during the tournament. (Photo: Jose Martin/The Star Press)

The doctor explained what he suspected the diagnosis was: Kawasaki disease. It causes inflammation of the walls of blood vessels, and is more common in infants and young children. Some of the early signs can be swollen lymph nodes, fever, and peeling of the skin. They immediately did an EKG test. Her heart was working normally. However, they found four large aneurysms.

“I’m panicking at this point,” her mother said.

They were assigned to a cardiologist, and Bell was put on a blood thinner. Finally, after 13 days in the hospital, they went home.

As soon as they got home, the reality began.

The name of a sport, and Bill played it growing up. She had run a mini marathon with her mother shortly before her condition was diagnosed. Now, she can no longer do any contact sports. Couldn’t do any activities where she might fall or be hit or scrambled. no. No rest.

“You can’t be hit in the head,” her mother said. “If she gets hit in the head, her brain can bleed and she dies. They told me no matter what kind of helmet I put on her head, it won’t protect her.”

For several months, Brown was confined to the couch.

“I tried to keep myself busy just watching TV shows or things like that, but it just killed my brain. I felt like I was in a slump,” Brown said. “All my friends can do stuff. All my cousins ​​can go and do their sports and ride bikes.”

“She was that active kid, so that was really hard for her,” Stitt said. “It was really tough for all of us.”

As the months went by, they tried all sorts of things to keep Brown busy – the stage. clubs. In the eighth grade, she was a manager on the volleyball team. None of them have scratched that competitive itch.

“Finally, I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” Brown said. “I have to get myself active again. I have to do something. “

In February 2018, 16 months after her daughter left hospital, Stitt begged a cardiologist to let Brown play. Something. Suggest golf.

Brown had never picked up a club before, but her uncles had. Stitt called them for advice. They said to get a swing coach Brown. So they did.

She spent a year learning the basics. It was a slow process.

“It took me a long time to really understand all the rules,” she said. “I didn’t really get it. I knew the way to swing, but hitting it so off the ground, it was just too weird for me.”

When she played in her first tournament, she fired 92.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so good for me. Maybe I should actually start focusing on this and try to get better,'” she said.

and I did. Last season, when she was a sophomore, she won the singles medal at the Delaware County Championships and the Divisional Championships. This season, she was the first-place finisher at the Monroe Central Invitational and placed second in the conference game. Its nine-hole average is 40.27 and its 18-hole average is 81.5.

Delta won its group on Saturday. Brown finished second among all golfers, scoring 77.

Just how dedicated is she to her craft? When her first swing coach moved to Dayton, Ohio, he drove the State Browns for an hour and a half each week to practice. She eventually converted the swing trainers, but he moved to West Lafayette. They make this trip, too.

Away from the golf course, challenges remain. Her aneurysm shrunk, but she still had blood thinners. She does a test every two weeks to make sure her blood isn’t too thick. She goes to Riley for an EKG and echocardiogram. She still limits the activities she does, and there are occasional concerns – last year, when she fell and hit her head, she had to go to the hospital to make sure she was okay.

“I really used to not like people who knew I had this problem,” she said. “I was almost embarrassed about it. But I think it’s cool now, what I am now.”

Her mother learned to leave her.

“At first, I felt like I wanted to put her in a bubble,” Stitt said. “I was very reluctant to let her do anything on her own. At 11 years old, they don’t always think about all the risks involved in everything they do. Now, I try not to stop her from anything, except contact sports. I try to make it be baby and let her do the things she wants to do.”

Brown has learned to live life without fear and embrace her journey.

“I really used to not like people who knew I had this problem,” she said. “I was almost embarrassed about it. But I think it’s cool now, what I am now.”

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