HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The 14th annual Swim for Melissa is Saturday, August 3rd. The event benefits the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. Chris and Amy George started it after their daughter died shortly after birth. For Melissa's twin, Ann Catherine, this year's swim will be another year of fun but also sad.
It was a big day for the George family when Ann Catherine was old enough to dive into her first Swim for Melissa. Her mom Amy recalls, “It was just amazing to see her in the pool and see her doing it because there were just a lot of unknowns when she was first born.”
Amy and her husband Chris didn’t know if Ann Catherine would ever walk, run or swim. “I just remember that first year seeing her doing those things,” Amy remembers, “You know, milestones with her are really, special because we know where we started.”
Nobody was more excited nine years ago than AC. I interviewed her in 2010 before her first swim event. “I’m going to help babies in the NICU,” she said. I asked her how she was going to do that. She looked at me and said, “By swimming.”
That’s exactly what she did. As Amy watched her daughter, she fought back tears of joy and sadness. Ann Catherine jumped into the pool when her team was announced. That five-minute swim by Melissa’s Miracles each year is the most emotional moment for the George family. “She’s swimming for her but she’s also swimming for Melissa, truly swimming for Melissa,” Amy said.
Ann Catherine added, “I’m doing it for both of us and for family and it’s just really special to me every year.” But this year will be bittersweet. “The fact that this is it, it is sad,” Amy said, “It’s the end of an era.” She laughed.
This will be Ann Catherine’s last year to swim. “It’s weird cause I’ve done it since I can remember,” she said, “And now, I’m about to be done. And it’s sad but I think it’ll be good. I’m excited.”
Ann Catherine is living proof miracles to happen in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. A.C. is now a 14-year-old high school freshman. “It’s going to be exciting and I’m still going to get nervous like I always do but I think it will be really, really fun,” she said, “I’m excited to do it one last time and hopefully, I do good.” She laughed.
She’ll be too old to swim next year. The event is for kids ages four to 14. But she’s not swimming off into the sunset. “No, I’m still going to carry on the legacy of her for sure,” she said. Ann Catherine will continue to raise money for Melissa’s fund to help those tiny little miracles in the NICU.
She’ll also be cheering on her little sister. “She’s still swimming,” Amy said about their youngest daughter. “Lily Baker’s got a couple of years left so now when that ends, I probably will be a basket case with both of them not being able to swim,” Amy added.
Swim for Melissa is from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 at Hampton Cove Pool. For more information or to register, click on the link for Swim for Melissa.