I'll never forget when the Huntsville Havoc approached us five years ago about doing a fundraiser for Melissa's Fund.
The players were going to wear pink jerseys. PINK!! I just couldn't imagine those tough guys wearing pink jerseys.
They did. And they were such good sports about it. Before the game, Chris took Ann Catherine into the locker room and told them all about her and Melissa. He told them about their brave fight in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. He told them how Melissa's fight ended way too early. He told them how Ann Catherine beat the odds to finally come home to us 68 days later. He told them how the auction of those pink jerseys would allow us to give other parents - parents just like us - hope.
When he finished, those players understood why they were wearing those pink jerseys. They played their hearts out, won in front of a packed crowd and we raised $65,000 in one night as we auctioned off those stinky, smelly - and in some cases, bloody - jerseys.
I'll never forget that night as long as I live.
Lily Baker was only two-months-old. The pain of losing Melissa was still so fresh. But on that night, we realized the impact Melissa's Fund could have on those precious babies and their families.
We learned that this town's hockey community didn't just love hockey. They love giving back. And Chris and I are beyond humbled at the way they have embraced the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.
We are so grateful to the Huntsville Havoc front office who put their heart and soul into this event. We are grateful that they have chosen to partner with us for the last five years to help premature babies and their families.
(Ann Catherine and her daddy dropping the puck at last year's game)
If you've come to this special night before, we hope you'll come again this year. If you haven't been before, clear your calendar for this Saturday night and join us. I promise you won't regret it!
The first 1,000 fans to bring an item for the NICU will receive a Havoc/Melissa George Fund water bottle. What to bring? Premature clothing, booties, hats or disposable cameras. Why disposable cameras? We leave them at the baby's bedside so nurses can take pictures of them when the parents aren't around. In fact, Ann Catherine received her very first bath at night. I wasn't there. But thanks to our nurse, and our disposable camera, I have a picture of it. That, my friends, is priceless.
Your support of Melissa's Fund means more than you'll ever know. For the past five years, hundreds of families have been on the receiving end of your kindness. You may never meet them, but please know that you have made an impact on their life.
Thank you from one very grateful family. We'll see you Saturday night!