After a rising high school junior died suddenly at cheer camp, her grieving parents decided to raise awareness about the cause in hopes of preventing others from meeting the same untimely fate.
Callie Mitchell, a 16-year-old high school student, had a bright future ahead of her before it was tragically cut short during cheer camp at Texas A&M University. Callie was set to embark on her junior year at Morton Ranch High School in Katy, Texas, where her mother was an assistant principal, but her promising journey took a devastating turn when her life came to a sudden and heartbreaking end. Although devasted by the loss of their child, Callie’s parents are determined to tell her story.
“She was like sunshine,” Callie’s mother, Michelle Donahue, said, adding that Callie “was super excited” to leave for cheer camp. However, things took a terrifying turn when a coach called her parents to ask them a question about their daughter, inquiring whether Callie had any issues waking up in the morning. Her mother adamantly stated that her daughter “never” had such problems. “She said, ‘Hey, does Callie have a problem waking up in the morning?’ And I said, ‘No never,'” Michelle recalled.
Troubled by the sudden and unexplained change in their daughter’s behavior, Callie’s parents jumped in the car and headed to College Station, according to KHOU. Once they got there, they were hit with devastating news. The same coach who had called them had to perform CPR on Callie after she was found unresponsive in her bed at camp. She was then airlifted to Texas Children’s Hospital.
Despite the valiant efforts to save her, Callie Mitchell’s life came to a heartbreaking end. Although they were devastated by their loss, Callie’s parents took comfort in two things. One, their daughter had died doing what she loved. Secondly, they were afforded the opportunity to say goodbye, thanks to the coach’s efforts to save their daughter’s life. “If it wasn’t for (Coach) Eberly, we would have never had the chance to say goodbye,” Michelle said, expressing her gratitude to the coach.
After learning what likely led to their daughter’s sudden death, Callie’s parents want to raise awareness. “Probably what happened was a cardiac arrest that was caused by Long QT syndrome,” Scott explained, referring to a genetic disorder that affects the electrical system that controls the heart and can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Since the syndrome can be easily detected through an electrocardiogram (EKG), Scott is now passionately advocating for parents to ensure their children receive proper screening.
“For any other parents out there, you know they do physicals every year,” Scott said before warning, “EKGs are not part of a physical.” Underscoring the importance of early detection, Callie’s parents said their other children would receive genetic testing for Long QT as a precaution since it is often inherited, and they advised other parents to “get an EKG” as part of their child’s athletic physical, even though the test is considered optional during athletic physicals in Texas, Fox News reported.
In the midst of this tragedy and heartache, a mission has emerged, and ironically, Callie Mitchell seemingly spoke it into existence in a social media post made just before her untimely demise. “His plan over mine,” she wrote, embodying what her parents now want her to be remembered for. Indeed, her death can be used for the greater good as her story stresses the potential life-saving impact of a simple preventative measure.
Callie Mitchell and her heartbreaking story stand as a reminder that advocating for early detection and proactive health measures can save lives — as long as others know what to ask for. As her parents and community forever mourn the loss of this bright soul, her death serves as a call to action, urging parents to take an extra step in safeguarding their children’s well-being every time that Callie’s story is shared.