HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The 10th annual Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa are set for August 7th and 8th. The two events raise money for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. Amy and Chris George set up the fund in memory of their daughter who died in 2005 after coming into the world 14 weeks early. Melissa’s twin sister, Ann Catherine lived.
Money from Melissa’s fund has helped thousands of babies in the Regional NICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. You’ve met some of them the past 10 years in stories we’ve done. We recently revisited five of those little miracles. You won’t believe how they’ve grown.
When we met 9-year-old Smith Wolford in 2008, the 3rd grader was raising money to help babies in the NICU. She spent the first three and a half months of her life there. Seven years ago Smith told us, “I was 1 pound and 11 ounces and I was as small as a squirrel.” And Smith was the biggest of the three. She was a triplet. One brother, Thomas, died days 10 after birth; the other,Pricepassed away 6 months later.
Today, Smith is 16 and just got her license to drive. She’s like any other teenage girl. She likes to shop and take trips, especially to the beach. And Smith loves to babysit.
In 2011, Rachel Farbman celebrated her first birthday the same day of the swim. When Rachel was born 17 weeks early, she had blood clots in her lungs and bleeding on her brain. Rachel and her twin brother, Raymond, both had breathing problems. He died a day and a half later. Joel and Melissa Farbman say their little girl was their miracle. Her mother Melissa said, “We're just blessed to have her."
Today, Rachel is ready to start kindergarten and she has a little brother, Michael. She loves to ride her bike, read and play soccer! Rachel also loves to swim and she’ll jump in a few days from now to take part in her first Swim for Melissa.
Six years ago, Silas Truss was only two years old when we met him. Silas came into the world four and a half months early. He spent his first 106 days of life in the NICU. He weighed one pound 14 ounces. His mother Baraka reminded us that, “Silas was the first baby to actually use one of the beds that was purchased from the Melissa George foundation. So we are definitely eternally grateful for that.”
Today, Silas is all boy. He’s in the third grade. Silas loves playing basketball, swimming and playing the drums and video games. His mom describes him as a smart, kind young man who lives God and his family.
The story of Ava Grace Green touched our hearts three years ago. She weighed a little more than a pound when she came into the world on June 13th, 2012. One week later, Ava Grace’s mother Kym died unexpectedly. She was 37. Steve Green went from being on top of the world as a new dad to the lowest point of his life, losing his wife. He went to the NICU that night to be with their daughter and his words to Ava Grace were simple, “Daddy loves you. Mama`s with you. God loves you. Jesus loves you. Looks like you have a lot of mamas and daddy`s here for you.” Steve and Ava Grace were immediately surrounded by the love of family and friends including the doctors and nurses in the NICU.
That little miracle is now three years old. She has started pre-K and loves it. Steve says Ava Grace is a happy little girl who has her own opinions on things and she’s not afraid to share them. Her favorite thing is to play dress up. She loves being a princess.
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And five years ago, we sat down with Ann Catherine George as she was getting ready to get in the water for the first time to swim for her twin sister Melissa. And there was never any doubt about what to call her team, Melissa’s Miracles. And A.C. knew why it was so important to take the plunge telling us, “I'm going to help babies in the NICU by swimming.”
Today, Ann Catherine is a healthy and active 10-year-old. She’s come a long way from one pound 15 ounces to being almost as tall as her mother. She plays volleyball and softball and is learning golf. A.C. loves sports. That includes anything to do with Alabama. She’s also a big Huntsville Havoc Hockey fan along with her little sister Lily Baker. Ann Catherine George has a dream. She wants to be the first female offensive coordinator in college football.