Virginia parents mourn daughter, 10, who died from COVID-19

The couple hopes their heartbreak will encourage others to get vaccinated.

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A 10-year-old Virginia girl has died of COVID-19 days after she started feeling sick.

The parents of Teresa Sperry thought she had a simple headache on Sept. 22. By Sunday, she was in the emergency room, coughing and vomiting. The fifth-grader had no underlying conditions, according to the couple. But on Sept. 27, she stopped breathing and died, PEOPLE reported.  

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Teresa Sperry via YouTube screenshot

Her parents Nicole and Jeff Sperry, as well as their two older sons, are vaccinated against COVID-19, but Teresa was too young for the jab, as is her 9-year-old brother, according to the report. 

“We thought it was just a simple headache,” Nicole told CNN. “I get headaches; migraines run in our family. We gave her medicine and she felt better. The next day, when she came home from school, she passed out, she went straight to bed, and she doesn’t do that. She hasn’t wanted to take a nap in a long time.”

Nicole said her daughter “was healthy and strong,” and the virus “took her down in five days,” Jeff added. “If it can take her, it can take anybody.”

Teresa “was a very caring and thoughtful person,” Nicole said.

“[I] always said that she was my mini-me. When she was born, she came out looking exactly like me,” Nicole said. “None of my boys look like me. She had my same personality, my same smile. She made a point to make sure to make friends with everybody. She would wave and say ‘hi’ to random people; compliment them on their hair, or their shirt. She just always thought of others.”

The couple’s school board held a meeting on the evening Teresa died where “there were people there that said, ‘COVID is over,’ that it doesn’t affect healthy people, that it doesn’t kill healthy people, that we could basically get on with our lives,” said Nicole. 

“If it was over, my daughter would still be here. We wouldn’t be doing these interviews. We wouldn’t be preparing for her funeral. And it upset me so much that people just are so nonchalant about it. While my only girl is gone,” she continued. “It’s not fair.”

The couple hopes their heartbreak will encourage others to get vaccinated.

“The only way this makes sense is for her to save people,” Jeff said. “I don’t want other people to have to do what we’re doing right now.”

Nicole attributed her daughter’s death to “selfish” people not following COVID precautions, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“My beautiful girl was taken from me because people are too damn selfish to care about what could happen to others,” she wrote on Facebook. “Want to know what you can do to honor my lovely girl? Wear a damn mask! Get vaccinated!”

The Suffolk Public Schools released the following statement on Twitter:

“Suffolk Public Schools is heartbroken due to the tragic loss of one of our students, Teresa Sperry. It is our intention to support the family, the school, and our entire school communinity during this very difficult time. We will continue to follow our mitigation strategies of wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing. The school division also encourages vaccinations of both staff and students (if they are eligible).

Suffolk Public Schools will continue to follow the guidance from the Center for Disease Control with support from the Western Tidewater Health District.”

The district reportedly requires masks for all students and staff.

The Sperrys have a message for the unvaxxed.

“Get a vaccine if you can, if you are medically able to get one. Wear a mask, wear it properly, have care and a compassion for other people. We have had that compassion over the last year,” Nicole Sperry said.

“When I think of her, I think of someone who was caring. She had a heart for everybody. Like if she saw somebody sad, or if she saw someone who needed a friend, she was there,” said Nicole Sperry. “It’s not fair. A lot of people should have been able to get to know her and become a better person because of her.”

Paypal account has been set up to help with the Sperry family expenses.

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