HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - No one plans to end up in a neonatal intensive care unit.
No mother anticipates leaving the hospital without her baby.
No father is prepared to see his child covered in wires, surrounded by the beep and whir of life-supporting machines.
But when a baby enters the world in need of a little - or a lot - of help, a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU can be a life-saver.
Each year, more than 1,000 newborns are admitted to the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.
Over the last ten years, many of these babies have benefited from equipment purchased by the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.
In June 2005, Amy and Chris George's twin daughters were born at 26 weeks. Melissa Suzanne died a few hours after birth. Ann Catherine remained in the RNICU for 68 days.
Touched by the care their daughters received, the Georges established the fund in Melissa's name.
With the community's support, the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund has provided giraffe beds throughout the NICU.
These special beds combine an incubator with a warmer to provide premature babies with a healing micro-environment that helps them thrive.
In addition, the fund provides parents who have lost their babies with memory boxes, in which the child's blankets, ID bracelets and other precious mementos can be kept.
To support these efforts, the George family created two annual fundraisers. The Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa.
This year's Miracle Bash is set for August 5, at 6:30pm at the grounds of the Huntsville Museum of Art. The event includes a buffet dinner, silent auction, raffle and craft beer tasting.
Tickets are available now online.
Amy George says, "it's just a wonderful time to come and have fun with friends but also to help a wonderful cause."
"We have a great silent auction... and in fact, I just found out yesterday, for instance, we have a Derrick Henry signed Titans football coming, and just wonderful trips and packages."
The Miracle Bash will be followed by Swim for Melissa on Saturday, August 6.
The swim, for children ages 4 to 14, will be from 9:00am to 2:00pm at the Hampton Cove Pool.
It's a non-competitive event, with each child swimming as many laps as he or she can during a 5 minute time period.
While the swim is taking place, there will be games, face painting, food and more on the lawn.
Registration is open now for individuals and teams. If you don't want to swim but want to support the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund, you can still make a donation.
In addition to the giraffe bed, organizers hope the 2016 events will also provide the RNICU with "a hypothermia system or 'cooling blanket' that lowers the body temperature of an infant suffering from deprivation of oxygen and blood flow to the brain and 'Journey Bead" bracelets for parents to commemorate their baby's milestones while in the NICU."
To purchase tickets to the 2016 Miracle Bash, click here.
To register for Swim for Melissa, click here.
To donate in the name of a particular swimmer or to the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial fund, in general, click here.