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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Big Splash for Tiny Miracles!

This post is way overdue, but I always hesitate when blogging about events for Melissa's Fund. Maybe it's all of the emotions soaring through my body. Maybe it's a fear of leaving any detail out. Maybe it's a sense of dread of how to do justice to a truly magical weekend.

I'll try anyway.

Here are the official numbers: This year's Swim for Melissa and Miracle Bash raised more than $181,000 for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund!!! To raise that kind of money in this kind of economy is truly astounding!

More than 500 people came to the Davidson Center to enjoy Miracle Bash. We had more than 100 silent auction items and seven live auction items. Our biggest hit was an autographed Taylor Swift guitar!! The Undergrounders played (hello college, anyone??!) and everyone had a great time. It was a fantastic evening!

On Saturday, we rolled out of bed bright and early to join close to 200 little swimmers at Hampton Cove Pool. These kids take my breath away every year. They make Swim for Melissa the wonderful event that it is. It warms my heart to see them jump into the pool and swim with all the energy they can muster.

(Lily Baker's team "Melissa's Rainbows")

The coolest part for me this year? Lily Baker finally got to swim! Last year was Ann Catherine's first time to swim in the event and, as you can imagine, it was a very emotional time for me and Chris. But adding Lily Baker this year was just the icing on the cake. It just truly brought it full circle for our family. To see both of our girls swimming in memory of their sister? It gave me a feeling that I truly can't put into words.

(Ann Catherine's team "Melissa's Miracles")

I will tell you this. On this day each year, maybe more than any other, I feel Melissa's spirit and her presence so strongly. I am reminded of the fight and courage she showed during her short time on this Earth, and that gives me the energy and determination to keep going. Each year at this event, I see other moms and dads who have survived this NICU journey and I am inspired by their efforts to give back.

To those of you who came to Miracle Bash and/or Swim for Melissa, to those of you who volunteered your time and to those of you who made generous donations, thank you doesn't seem adequate. Regardless, I will say it. Thank you for all you do to support the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. Thanks to you, we can help make life better for premature infants and their families.

Before I end, allow me to share one story that to me personifies Swim for Melissa. A lady walked up to me at the pool that morning and introduced me to her son and daughter. They were both taking part in Swim for Melissa. She had explained to her children that this event was to help the babies in the NICU. To further bring it home, she and her children prayed every night for those babies in the weeks leading up to the event. How awesome is that?! What a wonderful mom to help her children grasp why helping others is so important, and then to go the extra mile with her children to pray for those precious babies!

Each year at Swim for Melissa, we hear stories so similar to that one. These children know why are swimming (ask any of them and they'll tell you they're "helping the tiny babies") and that means more to me than anything. So many of our children have everything they need and it's good to remind them that we are expected to help others.

I love that part of Swim for Melissa. And I love each of you who made it such a inspiring weekend!

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