Nevaeh Summers went into cardiac arrest the day before she was to start her sophomore year at St. Albans High, her mother said.
Erikah Berry said her daughter had gotten back into cheerleading after nine years, and had just made the varsity cheerleading team.
Nevaeh had shown horses for about half her life and was preparing to show them at the State Fair, Berry said. Marlena Turley, owner of Tyler Mountain Riding Academy, said she had just advanced into a new division in the riding sport.
And Nevaeh was looking forward to learning to drive.
But after being hospitalized Aug. 8 during a camping trip with her best friend, Nevaeh died Wednesday night. She was 15.
“She was so looking forward to cheering and football games and making new friends because we did all virtual school last year,” Berry said. “So she never got her high school experience.”
Nevaeh was set to be honored at Thursday night’s St. Albans home football game.
Berry said an immunologist at Morgantown’s Ruby Memorial Hospital suspects a previous asymptomatic case of COVID-19 contributed to myocarditis, although an autopsy is pending. Nevaeh had coronavirus antibodies in her blood, Berry said.
She previously had never been sick, Berry said.
“In a blink of an eye, our whole world just got turned upside down,” Berry said. “Love like Nevaeh, and treasure your friends and family. Life is short, and there’s never enough time. Hold on tight to your babies and protect them from the mess with COVID, because it’s going to get worse.”
“It comes back in kids and attacks their organs,” said Berry, herself a nurse. “Sometimes it’s their whole body, and sometimes it’s just their heart, and, in her case, it was just her heart.”
Some commenters on Facebook updates about Nevaeh’s condition had suggested the COVID-19 vaccine sickened her. But she wasn’t vaccinated, Berry said.
Nevaeh’s former cheerleading gyms, River Cities Tumbling and Cheerleading and Famous Superstars, closed Thursday in her honor, as did Tyler Mountain Riding Academy and Tyler Mountain Stables.
“This was her riding night, and they said they all need time to grieve,” Berry said.
Turley said that, in Nevaeh’s time riding, she never “wanted to quit, no matter how hard it got.” She was always the one introducing new riders to others and giving them tours of the facility, and she was always smiling, Turley said.
“That, I think, is what was the most special about her is she always spoke up and made everybody feel comfortable,” Turley said.
Berry said that, while Nevaeh loved cheerleading and horses, she also was an “old soul,” into ’90s rap and earlier music, like Fleetwood Mac.
Berry had bought tickets for her to attend the Ja Rule concert in Charleston. It would have been Nevaeh’s first concert.
Berry said she has no health insurance or life insurance to help pay for Nevaeh’s past care or funeral expenses. She said she got a new job and there’s a 90-day hold on benefits. Marsha Riffe, a family friend, has set up a GoFundMe online to help cover expenses.
Berry thanked the community for its outpouring of support and all of the medical staff who helped, from the firefighter who gave Nevaeh chest compressions at the campground, to the staff, nurses and physicians at Pleasant Valley Hospital and Ruby Memorial Hospital, to the Healthnet Aeromedical Services workers who airlifted Nevaeh to Ruby.
And she thanked everyone for their prayers. She said people as far away as England and Ireland were praying.
“They gave us time,” Berry said. “We didn’t have to say goodbye to her on the eighth.”
“She’s a warrior, she just fought her fight,” Berry said. “She just couldn’t fight anymore.
“I didn’t know her name would have so much significance,” she said.
It’s heaven spelled backward.
“I didn’t name her Heaven so God could take her back. I named her Heaven because she was my little piece of heaven.”