Fan skips ringing cancer-free bell to meet idol


PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) — One extremely dedicated Houston Astros fan celebrated being cancer-free by being first in line, waiting for 33 hours outside an Academy Sports + Outdoors in Pasadena.

Liza Valverde is such a big Astros fan that she chose to bypass her chance to ring the bell after her last radiation treatment on Wednesday so she could wait in line to see José Altuve.

“Yesterday, actually, I had my last radiation treatment, because I had cancer,” Valverde explained to ABC13.

Cancer patients often ring a bell to celebrate the end of their radiation treatment or chemotherapy.

“At my appointment, they asked me if I wanted to ring the bell. I said, ‘I don’t have time to ring the bell. I have to hurry and get in line for Altuve,'” she said.

Valverde explained that she had been rooting the ‘Stros on all season and didn’t want to miss the chance to meet one of her favorite players and get an autograph.

EARLIER REPORT: Cancer survivor missed ringing bell to be 1st in line to meet Jose Altuve

“They said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to ring the bell?'” Valverde said. “I said, ‘I’m sure. I have to be the first in line for Altuve.'”

Someone else at the Academy store heard Valverde’s story and decided to do something special.

“He said, ‘I heard you didn’t get to ring the bell. Well, here’s a bell for you to ring,'” Valverde said.

A video shared with ABC13 shows Valverde ringing the bell and celebrating outside the store.

“That just made my day,” Valverde said. “To know that there are good people out there who care enough.”

Valverde arrived at the Academy around 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Altuve’s meet-and-greet was Thursday at 7 p.m.

She finally got to meet her hero when she was surprised with an autographed jersey and an embrace with the star.

“I’m really, really happy for you. Hopefully, you can go soon to ring the bell, but today, thank you for coming here,” Altuve told Valverde.

After her long-awaited meetup, she said she’s going to remember the moment for years to come.

“It was awesome! It’s something that I’ll never ever forget,” she said. “That’s why I beat cancer.”

We’re told more than 700 people waited in line for a 90-minute event reserved for just 500, but when Altuve found out there were more people, he stayed past the allotted time to fulfill meet and greets for the extra folks.

READ MORE: Astros’ José Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker meeting fans at Academy Sports + Outdoors this week

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