BREWSTER, N.Y. -- Jessi-Ann Bettcher, 27, of Brewster, a youth sports coach and transplant advocate, died Thursday, Nov. 3, at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
A huge soccer fan and player, Bettcher coached North Salem, Bedford and Brewster youth soccer teams, as well as Chris Obi Soccer at the Brewster Sport Center.
She was also passionate spokesperson with New York State Donate Life after receiving a heart transplant when she was 17 years old.
Bettcher was born on Oct. 10, 1989 in Carmel. She was a 2008 graduate of Brewster High School and continued her education at Westchester Community College receiving her associate's degree in social work.
On Donate Eight , Bettcher wrote that she had been a perfectly healthy teenager, a high school junior playing soccer. But in the summer of 2006, she became ill and was diagnosed with Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a condition with no known cause. In short, the disease affected her heart’s ability to pump blood because her left ventricle was enlarged and weakened.
She was hospitalized and placed on the heart transplant waiting list. After three days, Bettcher said she was told there was a heart donor who had been in his 20s.
"As a result of the transplant, I don't take life for granted. I turn 22 in October 2011," she wrote on Donate Eight. "I'm working at a gym; playing and coaching soccer, and attending college. Every little thing I do is for my donor. When I think of him I think of what he did. It was his last unselfish act of his life. I can only hope I make him proud."
Also known for her love for her family and her dog Darla, Bettcher was has just begun a new position with the Putnam County Youth Bureau in Carmel. Before that, she had worked at Putnam Ridge Nursing Home in Brewster in recreation for three years.
Bettcher is survived by her parents Dale and Lorie of Brewster, her siblings; Nicole (Jason) and their children Sylvia and Max; Kristen (Byron) and their son Sam, and her former husband Billy and their children Tillie and Oliver; Heidi (Scott) and their children Kaiya, Kamryn, Taylor and Logan; Jenna; Joseph (Dhivia) and their son Liam; Jessica; Paul; Joseph C.; Solomon, Tatum and Tatiana.
Friends may call at the Beecher Funeral Home, 1 Putnam Ave., Brewster, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, Brewster. Interment will follow at Raymond Hill Cemetery in Carmel.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Bettcher's memory may be made to New York State Donate Life, health.ny.gov/donatelife .
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