Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis are probably wondering why I haven't blogged about Swim for Melissa (which was Saturday).
It's because Ann Catherine came down with a horrible stomach virus exactly twelve hours after the event ended.
How's that for timing?
That little girl has been so sick. In fact, it's the sickest I've ever seen her. She threw up for 36 hours and was so sick and pitiful. She was so pale and couldn't barely move. All day Monday, she laid on the sofa or on my lap and slept.
It's so hard when your child is sick at this age. She would just beg me for something to eat, and then would get sick. She couldn't understand why she couldn't eat. All she knew was she was hungry. The doctor called in Zofran Monday afternoon (which was my wonder drug while I was pregnant) and once she got some medicine in her, she finally stopped throwing up. Today she was much better, and was actually able to eat. Unfortunately, Chris got it. I sent Lily to my mom's house while Ann Catherine was so sick, and so far, so good. As for me, "mommy immunity" kicked in and although I was the one who was with her 24/7, I didn't get it (thank goodness!).
Now - let's talk about this year's Swim for Melissa. It's hard for me to even put this into words. The Miracle Bash was held on Friday night. This year we moved it to The Westin after outgrowing The Ledges. When I left my office Friday afternoon, 580 people had RSVP'd. Probably around 550 showed up (around 330 came last year). We had the dueling piano players from Pat O'Briens for entertainment, and it was so much fun! Our silent auction alone pulled in $24,000, which I was especially happy about. I put a lot of work into the auction this year, and with the help of my fabulous hostesses, we more than doubled our items. It was just an amazing night.
Then came Saturday and Swim for Melissa! What can I say? We doubled our teams, and brought in $60,000 alone through the kids who raised money on the Swim for Melissa website. It was just a fabulous day. We couldn't have asked for better weather. It actually "cooled" down (I love that in the South we think the mid 80s in August are "cool") and was so nice.
People often ask me if that's an emotional weekend for me. It always is at some point, and I really never know when that moment is coming. This year, it happened during the swim. Ann Catherine and I had walked over to the other end of the pool to watch a team swim. She was sitting in between my legs and I had my arms around her.
All of a sudden it hit me why we were there. It hit me that a precious little girl - my daughter and Ann Catherine's twin sister - was the catalyst for this. I looked at a pool full of little girls and little boys and they were all here to help the premature babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. They were all here because Melissa paved the way.
I can't put into the words the enormity of that moment for me. It just makes me so proud of her. Her time with us was so short, but her legacy is so powerful. Through her death, God is changing lives. I think it's what I am most proud of.
Channel 19 did a great story that aired Saturday night at 10. I am linking to the page, just click here, and the video is under "Featured Videos" called "Swim for Melissa."
I guess I'm leaving out the best part: the unofficial total is more than $133,000 for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund!! I say unofficial because more money will probably come in over the next few weeks. When we have an official total, I'll be sure and post it.
Thanks to everyone who gave to this year's Swim for Melissa, and to those of you who took part. Many of you started web pages through our website to help us raise money, and many of you let your children swim on Saturday. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Chris and I may have started Melissa's Fund, but it's not about us. It's about hundreds of parents across the Tennessee Valley who have kept it going through their generous donations.
At one point Saturday, I looked up at that clear blue sky, and I felt I could see all the way to Heaven. I believe that Melissa was looking down on us, and I believe she was so incredibly proud of what was happening at that pool. And maybe, just maybe, they had their own Swim for Melissa in Heaven. Maybe God let those precious babies jump in his big crystal blue pool and do the things they never could do on Earth.
If you think there was joy at the Hampton Cove Pool on Saturday, just imagine what it was like at that pool.