HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A lot of us look forward to a new year to make changes in our lives. For one Huntsville family, 2023 will be bittersweet. But they’re also encouraged about what’s to come.

For the past 17 years, kids have been diving in to raise money and swim for Melissa. It’s been one of the signature events Chris and Amy George set up to raise money for the regional neonatal intensive care unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

It’s where Amy and Chris’ twins received critical care when they were born early. Ann Catherine survived. Melissa died shortly after birth. To honor her memory, Chris and Amy established the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund to raise money to help buy lifesaving equipment for the NICU.

“Nobody but Chris and I really knows all that’s gone into this from day one,” Amy told me fighting back tears, “Starting Melissa’s fund, we really put our hearts out there to have our grief exposed in ways, to be raw and honest with people, to try to help people who were walking the same road as us.”

They’ve made one of the toughest decisions they’ve had to make the since establishing the fund. “We’ve decided that we’re going to end Swim for Melissa,” Amy said. It was not a decision they made lightly. “We talked about it and then we took time to think about it before we came to a decision,” she said, “We prayed about it. But we’re at peace with it.”

June 1st, Melissa would have turned 18 along with Ann Catherine. “She would have transitioned from childhood into adulthood. And Chris and I just feel that as that transition would have been happening that it is time for Melissa’s fund to also make that transition,” Amy said.

Chris struggled with the idea of swim ending. “For me, I think the hardest part was her name was on it. And I didn’t want to see that go away,” he said choking up a bit, “But like we said, they’re going to be 18. Ann Catherine’s off to college.”

That’s in August when the event was normally held. “Having a swim without our family, our entire family there, it just doesn’t seem right either,” Chris said.

While Swim for Melissa is ending, the work to raise money for the NICU is not. “Miracle Bash is not going away. Melissa’s fund is not going away.” Amy said, “And we’re going to pour efforts more into that.

The community supported Swim for Melissa for 17 years, even when it had to be canceled the past three. “All the kids that swam and all the volunteers and the sponsors.” Chris said proudly, “To get to 17 years doing the same event is a miracle in itself.”

Amy added, “An ending means that you open the door to something else that’s going to be just as beautiful and just as meaningful. And that’s really how we’re looking at this.”

Go ahead and mark your calendars for this year’s Miracle Bash. It’s scheduled for August 11st. For more information, here’s a link to the Huntsville Hospital Foundation website.