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7’s Hero: Boise man creates mask line to honor late mother who lost her life to coronavirus

Caldwell nurse practitioner Samantha Hickey, 45, died of coronavirus in July, prompting her son to raise money for her St. Luke's memorial scholarship.

BOISE, Idaho — Caldwell nurse practitioner Samantha Hickey contracted COVID-19 in July. After a few days of managing the virus at home, she decided to go to the hospital when she noticed her symptoms worsening. 

12 hours after being admitted to the hospital, she lost her battle against coronavirus. She would have been 46 this month. 

Hickey’s sudden death left her family devastated. She was a loving wife to her husband Robb and a loving mom to her four children, Devan and Jackson Berg, who are in their twenties, seven-year-old Reed and five-year-old Blakelee. 

“I think it's safe to say everyone thinks about her a couple of dozen times a day and we're all trying to figure out how to live life without her,” Hickey’s oldest son Devan Berg said.

While Berg and the rest of his family knew Hickey had the virus, they thought she was doing fine recovering at home. However, her condition changed quickly.

“Really, over a course of four to five days. It was relatively normal sickness but then that Sunday came and in a matter of hours it went from not so serious to incredibly serious,” Berg said. “She actually walked herself in, she knew that she was dehydrated and wanted to get fluids, and while she was at the hospital is when everything serious started to happen.”

Hickey's death was shocking; a healthy woman who was just 45-years-old and had no underlying health conditions. Her doctors said the virus attacked her heart and they did everything they could.

“She actually had myocarditis, which is the inflammation in the heart," Berg said. "That was one hundred percent caused by the virus, she was incredibly healthy.”

Soon after his mom's death, Berg found a way to keep her memory alive. Hickey worked at St. Luke’s Pediatrics in Caldwell, and the hospital created The Samantha Hickey Nursing Scholarship in her honor.

“When everything happened and I heard that St Luke's was creating a scholarship program in her name for nursing education, I felt like it was my duty to be able to raise money to create awareness for her,” Berg said.

Berg is a product designer in Boise, so he created a line of masks in honor of his mom and her love of nursing. He added the words “Born for This” on the cloth masks, a phrase his mom connected to throughout her healthcare career.

“The words really do say it all, she was born for it,” Berg said.

With the help of social media and Berg’s website, the word is getting out about the mask line.

“The first week I received over 100 orders, and at this point, it hasn't seemed to slow down at all,” Berg said. “I've seen posts about my mother that have gotten up to 90,000 shares and comments, it's incredible really. I think she'd be incredibly blown away by the amount of support and love that we have seen.”

Hickey's family knows she would be incredibly proud of her son, including Berg's aunt and Hickey’s sister Rachel Seaman.

Her sister’s death has been incredibly painful for the whole family, that includes her parents, her grandparents, and their other sister. Everyone has been impacted by this heartbreaking loss.

“I don't think we'll ever get over this, we just day-by-day try to get through it,” Seaman said. “I love that Devan has taken the masks, not only in memory of her and to contribute to an education fund, but to bring awareness. Sam believed in science. Her goal was to keep her patients and their families safe.”

Berg has a message from his heart for the community.

“Masks are a very small price to pay to save yourself, loved ones, family friends, just anyone in the community,” Berg said. “It can happen honestly to anyone.”

He remains dedicated to keeping his mother's memory alive.

“I honestly hope no one has to share an experience like this,” Berg said. “I think she'd be proud.”

To access Berg's website, click here.

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