A South Jersey family and local school community are mourning the death of a 12-year-old child who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Amelia Sophia Perry, a seventh grader at William G. Rohrer Middle School in Haddon Township, died Sept. 23 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
She began feeling ill on Sept. 20 and tested positive for COVID-19 the following day, when she was also diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, according to her uncle, Derek Schofield.
“This combination, along with pneumonia, caused her health to rapidly decline,” he said.
A Camden County spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the medical examiner has not determined an official cause of death in the case.
Haddon Township school officials are offering counseling services to any students and staff struggling with the loss.
Amelia loved her family, friends, little sister, Ella, spending time with her grandparents and trips to Ocean City, Schofield said.
She also loved her trips to California to see her Uncle Derek and Aunt Kate.
As family members deal with their grief, they are also offering their appreciation to everyone who tried to help Amelia.
“The family would like to thank the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses at Cooper University Hospital as well as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” Schofield said.
The community has rallied to help them through the tragedy. Family friends created a Meal Train fundraiser, with donors offering financial support and signing up to provide meals for the family, including Amelia’s younger sister, who is also a student in the school district.
The fundraiser had collected nearly $8,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Nina and Mike Rippo created the Meal Train drive after learning that Amelia had passed. They also launched a GoFundMe to help the family.
“My daughter and Amelia were best friends since the third grade,” Mike said. “My daughter was very quiet and reserved and Amelia really helped bring her out of her shell. She was the nicest soul.”
They have known Amelia’s mom, Corinne, for several years, Mike said, and wanted to help the family in any way possible.
The best way to understand who Amelia was can be found in her own words, Schofield said. She worked on a book over the summer called “3,000 Questions About Me,” he noted, and she wrote that her idea of perfect happiness was “knowing that you’re loved by someone.”
She identified her real life heroes as “people who are nice to others,” and her personal motto was “always face the light,” because of her love of sunflowers.
Amelia was a talented artist and the Rippos also plan to sell T-shirts with the image of a sunflower she created along with her motto. All proceeds will benefit the family.
Family and friends posted tributes to Amelia online, recalling the child’s kindness, sense of humor and love of life.
“I miss you baby girl,” her mother wrote. “I will forever feel a void in my heart. You were my everything. Will miss your laugh, your hugs, jokes, and presence. You were a borrowed angel that touched so many lives.”
Amelia always thought of others, her grandmother wrote.
“Our hearts grew with you watching you grow, and for those who got to know you well. You shared with us many fun times, but most importantly your profound understanding about our purpose in life which was to love & help others. She always put herself second. She loved everyone, and every animal.”
Services for Amelia will be held Thursday at St. John Catholic Church in Collingswood.
New Jersey has recorded more than a million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began and 27,380 deaths, including 37 announced Tuesday.
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Matt Gray may be reached at email@example.com.