Suffolk family starts foundation encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations after daughter’s death


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10-year-old Teresa Sperry is often described as bubbly, friendly and above all else – caring. Teresa’s family says she stayed that way until she took her last breath this past fall.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to COVID. There’s no ‘It only attacks this person’ or ‘Only attacks that person’ there’s no decision you can make, being vaccinated is the one thing you can truly control,” explained Jeffery Sperry, Teresa’s father.

The Suffolk elementary schooler lost her fight to COVID-19 complications just five days after she initially reported a headache. At the time of her passing, Teresa’s age group wasn’t eligible for any of the vaccinations.

Months later, the Sperry family is enduring their first holiday season without the bubbly 10-year-old. They would argue that she’s there in spirit — especially since she lives through a new foundation started in her honor “Our Missing Stars.”

“The purpose is to promote advocacy, as far as vaccines. Helping to dispel a whole bunch of the misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccine, and to also continue to honor Teresa and the type of person that she was,” said Nicole Sperry, Teresa’s mother.

“Our Missing Stars” has a mission to not only honor Teresa’s memory, but to offer support to those families who have suffered loss from COVID. They’re hoping by doing so, it encourages everyone to get vaccinated and share accurate information. Teresa’s parents hope those who’ve decided against vaccination take another look at their options.

“They say ‘I’m not going to live in fear getting a vaccine, wearing a mask.’ It’s not living in fear,” said Nicole Sperry. “When we got our vaccines, we still wear our masks. We do it to help take care of the people around us that could get really sick.”

The Sperrys say being a non-partisan group was especially important to them.

“If you come out as partisan, one way or the other, Republican or Democrat, people just stop listening. So half the country is one or the other, and I’m sorry, but losing your kid is not political. I mean it’s not. it doesn’t matter if you are republican or Democrat, but if you were talking to just one audience the other side doesn’t listen,” said Jeffery Sperry.

The foundation shines a light on Teresa’s story and others who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Links to find where you can get vaccinated, the risk, the benefit and details on the coronavirus are available on the site.

An internal investigation looked into claims made by the Sperry family that their daughter acted as “school nurse” for her classmates. The 10-year-old allegedly said she was asked to escort fellow students to and from the nurse’s office this past fall.

Mulitple Freedom of Information Act requests have been denied, but 10 On Your Side is working to obtain a copy of that internal investigation.

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