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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 15th annual Swim for Melissa and Miracle Bash are coming up in a few weeks. But because of COVID-19, things will be different this year. The events are major fundraisers each year for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

It was set up by Chris and Amy George after the death of their daughter shortly after her birth. Money from the events is used to buy equipment and support programs for the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

Both will still happen, but Swim2020 will be different. “Taking a year off just didn’t feel like an option for us because the need is still there,” co-founder Amy George said, “And we promise that on Saturday August 22nd, we’ll make it worth your while.”

Amy and her husband Chris are asking kids to sign up and raise money for Melissa’s fund just like they do every year. Instead of going to the pool, they’ll drive the Miracle Mile on Jaycee Way at John Hunt Park. “They’re going to stay in their cars and they’re going to drive through this parade,” Amy said with a huge smile, “That’s where they’re going to get their t-shirt. It’s where they’re going to get their prizes. We’re going to have treats for them.”

Later that evening, Miracle Bash attendees will drive the Miracle Mile. “We’re not going to all go and gather together like we have in the past,” Amy said, “But, people are still going to be able to bid online for all of those silent auction items.” And there will be food. “We will treat them to dinner, and we’ll give them dinner to take home and some other fun things, a t-shirt and some other things,” Amy added.

It’ll be a carry out meal. “They can take the food back home and eat it or maybe you know they can drive somewhere and pop the trunk up and tailgate,” she said with a laugh. You can also buy a yard sign to show support for kids who were in the NICU or a family who made the journey. “Maybe they’re not in a position right now to be able to purchase that yard sign but you can,” Amy told me, “We’d love for you to do that. We want to line that entire mile with nothing but pictures of these kids.”

A lot of non-profits are in the same boat right now. “We’re just grateful for whatever people can do because we know this is a hard time for everyone,” Amy said, “We’re all struggling.” When I asked what she and Chris would miss the most about the swim this year, she paused and said, “Seeing the kids and families. It’s like a yearly reunion for our family.”

Hopefully both events will be bigger and better next year. “I have to believe this is a bump in the road and one day we’ll look back and we’ll go, man, that 2020 was a crazy year wasn’t it,” Amy said smiling, “But maybe one day we`ll be back to normal.”