Texas teen dies suddenly at cheer camp – now her parents want to raise awareness of the undetected disease that likely led to her death

Callie Mitchell celebrated her sweet 16 on June 6 and was looking forward to starting her junior year, cheerleading at the same school her mom works as assistant principal.

But, after a tragic medical emergency in July, the beautiful young girl died suddenly at cheer camp, some of her last words that she shared, “His plan over mine.”

Known as their “sunshine,” family and friends are mourning the death of the Texas teen, one of God’s biggest cheerleaders, who died unexpectedly of a heart disorder on August 1.

And now, her parents want to spread the word about the hereditary heart condition that can cause sudden death in young athletes.

Texas-born Callie Mitchell was only two when she started cheerleading for her brother’s little league team. The 16-year-old, who would have started her junior year this fall, was “super excited” for cheer camp at Texas A&M University, which started July 24.

On the evening of July 25, she called her parents, Scott and Michelle Donahue, to share her excitement. “You could hear the joy and happiness in her voice,” Scott said.

It was the last conversation Scott and Michelle had with their daughter.

The next morning, Callie was found by her coach, unresponsive in her bed. 

After trying to revive the young girl with CPR, the coach then called her dad and mom, assistant principal at the high school where Callie would have started her junior year in the fall.

Michelle recalled when she heard from the coach: “‘Hey, does Callie have a problem waking up in the morning?’ And I said, ‘No never’”

#Repost @katymagazine・・・KATY MOURNS: Callie Mitchell brought light into this world and while her legacy will live on,…

Posted by Morton Ranch High School on Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Callie, whose parents raced to be at her side, was airlifted to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

The cause behind Callie’s sudden collapse was identified as Long QT syndrome (LQTS), which is described by the Mayo Clinic as “a heart signaling disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats (arrhythmias).” Young people have an increased risk of sudden death.

Even with multiple rounds of CPR, Callie was without oxygen and the injury to her brain was too much. She died on August 1, 2023.

“She was like sunshine,” Michelle said of her daughter, whose faith–that embodies her spirit–continues to inspire their healing.

Her parents credit the coach for allowing them their final goodbyes. “If it wasn’t for [Coach] Eberly, we would have never had the chance to say goodbye,” Michelle said.

“Callie loved the relationships and friendships she built.” Scott continued, “She loved to perform and prided herself in being strong even though she may lack in height. Callie enjoyed being a leader in every team she belonged too.”

An active member in the cheer community, the competitive cheerleader was honored by the Universal Cheerleading Association and named an Honorary Lifetime All American Cheerleader. 

One of her coaches, Justin Castleberry, said that Callie helped him more than he helped her.

“Some kids you connect with on a different level and Callie was one of those kids. She brought a joy and a light to the room and to everyone she encountered.” Castleberry, who spoke at Callie’s funeral, and acted as a pallbearer, continued, “You dream of coaching the kids that you are so well connected with. When you coach, you don’t just coach the kid, but you become part of their family.”

Callie was also a member of her local church, and her online obituary shares that she was often seen at Starbucks reading the bible, and that she named her car “Faith.”

In one of her last Instagram posts, Callie is seen on a road holding two gold-colored balloons for 16. The post, which was shared shortly after her 16th birthday, is captioned, “His plan over mine.”  

One of her best friends, Madi Taylor, shares a heartbreaking post on losing her friend. Sharing several images with Callie, including one where she’s holding her hand before her death, Madi writes, “…your jokes were completely unbeatable and your laugh was the most contagious thing. Your sweet little dimples would always show when you would smile.” A fellow cheerleader, Madi continued, “you had the most deserving loving heart i could ever imagine. you were the light of many rooms you walked into. you were there with me to laugh. you were there with me to cry. and you were there smiling with me for the past years. paint the beautiful sky cals.”

Friends commented on her post with love and healing thoughts. One shares, “there was never a moment where callie didn’t brighten my day. i’m sending love and prayers to you, and i’m here for you.” Another friend writes, “praying for you my sweet Madi. know that she will forever be watching over you and is going to be with you every single day!!”

Callie isn’t the first student athlete to die of LQTS. Boston Children’s Hospital says that left untreated, it can lead to sudden cardiac death. LQTS kills about 3000 to 4000 children and young adults each year.

In 2012, a star football player, Cody Stephens, was months away from a college football scholarship when he took a nap and died of sudden cardiac arrest. In 2019, a legislation requiring parents the option on having an ECG was passed. The law is named “Cody’s Law,” after the 18-year-old who died years before. However, the screening is optional.

Michelle and Scott want to bring awareness to the genetic disorder that affects the electrical system that controls your heart.

“For any other parents out there, you know they do physicals every year… [ECGs] are not part of a physical … get an [ECG],” Scott said.


What a wonderful young woman and we are heartbroken over her death. We send our very best to the family and friends of Callie Mitchell and hope they find some peace in helping others.

Please share this story, and in memory of Callie, let’s spread awareness about sudden cardiac deaths in young people.