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Community remembers teen killed by heart infection

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 9:29 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The St. Albans community gathered Thursday to remember a young girl who died Wednesday night after an 18-day battle in the hospital with a heart infection.

“We did all start cheer together at Famous Superstars, me and her were like bestfriends,” said Gracelyn Anderson. “She was the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, she would light up your day.”

Nevaeh Summers, 15, was getting ready to begin her sophomore year at St. Albans High School when she was found unresponsive during a sleepover at a friend’s home. Her mother, Erikah Berry, and stepfather, Wayne Berry, were woken up in the middle of the night by a call from a police officer. They then rushed to meet Navaeh as she was being flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Doctors were able to stabilize Nevaeh, and Wayne said she even began to improve during the first couple days in the hospital. Her parents refused to leave her side and were even awake for more than 40 straight hours at one point as Nevaeh’s condition started to decline.

“She wanted so hard to wake up, and you could see it,” Erikah said. “That was the hardest part. The hardest part was just her fight. I was so proud of her.”

“She took a turn,” Wayne said. “It seemed the more she came off the sedation, the worse her heart got, so we had to put her back on sedation just to calm her down.”

“I have comfort that she gave it her all,” Erikah said. “We gave it our all. That baby is a warrior, and she was just tired.”

Doctors told Erikah and Wayne that certain viruses, including COVID-19 and the common cold, can cause heart infections like this. Erikah said the biggest shock is Neveah had passed a sports physical and had begun cheerleading practice a few weeks earlier without any problems.

“Neveah was a healthy child and never had any major medical issues before this,” Erikah said. “She loved cheerleading, horseback riding and spending time with her dogs.”

Wayne said she was shy at first but would open up and become really funny with her friends and family. Nevaeh was always willing to help people during cheer practice or make the horse barn welcoming to new young riders.

“She thought nobody liked her, and I wish, I hope she can see how many people love her,” Erikah said. “Don’t take the people you love for granted and love everybody. Life is short, and we never know. It can change in an instant.”

Thursday night marked the first game Summers would’ve cheered in as a sophomore at St. Albans High School but instead, balloons were released, signs were hung and black shirts were worn in her honor.

“The first day I went into cheer for the all-stars, she came up to me because she knew I didn’t know anybody and she made me feel welcomed,” Anderson said. “Ever since then we were close, I loved her so much. She was so sweet.”

Summers was around the age of 4 when she first joined River Cities Tumbling and Cheerleading in Hurricane. The owner there, Adam Stafford, said Summers decided to take a break for a few years but was finally back this past year to continue furthering her competition cheerleading career.

“This year, she was on one of our senior teams (and) she was a good leader,” Stafford told WSAZ. “She was one of the older ones, very positive, (a) very hard worker, and she was just a nice person to have in the gym.”

Thursday night, River Cities, along with other local gyms, dimmed their lights and closed for the night in honor of Summers.

Stafford said Summers was able to hear their competition dance song before passing, as her friend played it for her in Morgantown.

“(The friend) called me and said that she had told (Summers) we would save a spot for her on the floor and we will,” he said. “We’ll have a spot in the formations for her.”

Stafford said they will also be putting Summers’ uniform in a shadow box to display in the gym.

St. Albans High School collected donations to help cover Nevaeh’s medical expenses and funeral costs during the school day on Thursday and during the team’s first home football game of the season on Thursday night. Donations can also be made online through a GoFundMe.

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