When a baby comes into the world prematurely and begins their life journey in the regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children, each day brings new hope. Amy and Chris George know that first-hand.
“Milestones are so special to a NICU family,” Amy recently told me. Those tiny milestones are huge. That’s why parents and NICU staff celebrate each baby’s progress. “You’re just filled with so much joy, so much gratefulness that you made it to this point,” Amy told me, “Because there were days where you wondered if you would make it to that point.”
Amy and Chris walked in those shoes 16 years ago when they lost one of their twin daughters, Melissa, shortly after she was born. Melissa’s twin, Ann Catherine lived, making those milestone miracles even more special to the George’s and other NICU families. Amy adding, “I say that all the time Jerry.”
They enjoy those life moments perhaps a little more than some of us who sometimes take them for granted. “Every milestone is so special to you, whether it’s the first day of school or for Ann Catherine, her driver’s license this year because you can remember those moments where you just sat there wondering what the future held,” Amy said.
With more than 1,000 babies coming through the NICU each year, their chance of surviving is better now than what it was 16 years ago, thanks to Melissa. The Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund, set up by Chris and Amy, has raised more than 4.2 million dollars to buy life-saving equipment for the NICU and to fund programs.
“Melissa’s fund is part of our family and Chris, and I have raised the girls to embrace it and to love it,” Amy said proudly, “Whenever we’re able to purchase something or help a family, I come home and tell my girls, hey, guess what Melissa’s fund was able to do today. I make sure that they know, and I make sure that they understand.”
Thanks to the support of individuals, groups and businesses in the community, the mission to create even more miracle moments will continue for years to come. Amy added, “For us not being able to raise her here on this earth, this is a way we can make sure that she’s remembered and that we can just carry out her legacy of who we believe she would have been and just try to help other people that way.”
Here’s a link to buy tickets for the “Sweet 16” Miracle Bash at Stovehouse and for more information on how to register your child for this year’s “Swim for Melissa” to be held at Hampton House pool in Hampton Cove, August 7th.