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10-Year-old girl dies suddenly on first day of summer camp

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

Girl collapses and dies while playing soccer at camp

One minute she was running down the field, playing soccer at summer camp, and the next, 10-year-old Laura Palma collapsed and died.

It happened Monday in Queens, New York. She had no history of health problems, and she had reportedly just had a physical that declared her to be in good health. But for some reason, Laura was struck by what is believed to be a seizure. While her father, Luis Palma, watched EMTs tried to save her, they couldn't.

“When I held her hand, I said, 'We lost her,'" he told the New York Daily News. "At that moment, when I touched her, I knew."

It's absolutely heartbreaking, and I can't imagine dropping my child off happy and healthy at camp one morning and never having her come home again. Actually, I can imagine, as this is the first summer I'm sending my 11-year-old son off to sleepaway camp.

While I'm wildly excited for him to experience all that summer camp offers and think it will be incredible for his self-esteem and sense of self, there's also a host of nagging worries about what could happen when I'm not around. From alligators in the lake (we live in Florida) to accidents and child molesters, a host of dangers cross my mind. I push them aside because I know logically that the possibility of them happening is small and because I try not to stifle my children based on my fears, but still, they linger. Things do happen… and not just at camp.

We can try to protect our children and prepare them as much as humanly possible, and still we can't save them from random flukes like this. So how do we walk away, wave and say "see you in a week" — especially after reading a story like this?

We do it because we have to. Because we can't live life with fears about what could happen. And as sad as it is to think about, I would rather have my children die while out having fun and living life than I would kill all the joy out of living by trying to keep them safe and next to my side at all times.

So when it's time for camp, I'll remember Laura's story, and I'll hug my son extra tight. But then I'll walk away and pray I'll get to hug him again.

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