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Swim, Smile, Support: The Brooke E. Posey Story

Brooke Erin Posey, the beloved, youngest daughter of Ernest Posey and Marie Gregory, lost her life in a car accident on March 16, 2017, at the age of 17. Despite her youth, Brooke embraced life zealously, starting swimming at four years old and horseback riding at eight. She excelled in equestrian competitions nationwide and enjoyed various outdoor activities like water skiing, sailing, boating, and snow skiing. Above all, Brooke cherished her family and friends, extending the concept of “family” to include her blended bonus family. 

Brooke’s bonus mom, Melissa Corass, established The Brooke Erin Posey Foundation in 2019 to commemorate the memory of Brooke by organizing charitable events and educational activities for local children’s charities. Melissa and Brooke first met in 2005 after Melissa had been dating Brooke’s father, Ernest, for a few years. Melissa and Ernest introduced their children to each other during Mardi Gras that year, and Melissa recalls her daughter, Lauryn, and Brooke clicking instantly. Brooke and Lauryn were only two months apart in age and enjoyed doing many of the same things growing up, swimming included.  

The Foundation aims to spread kindness to children in Metro New Orleans and nearby areas facing adversities in honor of Brooke. Shortly after Brooke’s passing, her swim coach, team mom, and swim team with the Southern Yacht Club, rallied behind the family and asked to dedicate the following swim season to Brooke. Inspired by her spirit, the swim team began a yearly swim-a-thon hosted on the weekend around Brooke’s birthday, June 12.

The first swim-a-thon raised $8,700 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and had about 25 participants. Melissa realized soon after that she wanted to support local charities and give back to the community that gave so much to her and her family growing up. Initially conceived as a one-time event, the swim-a-thon is now continued annually with the support of the Southern Yacht Club, the Seagulls swim team, Love Swimming, and many more caring community members. The last seven years have brought in $121,000 for local nonprofits. During a conversation before their third swimming fundraiser, Melissa proposed to Brooke’s father to start a nonprofit, which led to the establishment of The Brooke Erin Posey Foundation.

The Foundation itself is entirely run on donations, which primarily come from the swim fundraiser. Funds raised from this year’s eighth annual Brooke E. Posey Swim-a-Thon & Family FUNraiser on June 15 will support STAIR Nola, a one-on-one reading and literacy tutoring program. Registration for swimmers opens on May 1 during a special kickoff party, but anyone who wishes to show their support can come to hang out and have fun. The event will feature games and prizes, a parade of prizes, an online auction, a DJ, food served by Pig Lebowski BBQ, and some special surprises. However, sponsorship opportunities are now available for purchase until April 30. Melissa and the Foundation are also currently accepting monetary donations, auction items, and items for the fundraiser’s “Parade of Prizes.”

Now, the Brooke Erin Posey Foundation is working on its newest initiative: Brooke’s Little Libraries. Melissa is hoping to bring more little libraries to the community through this project while continuing to raise money for the Foundation.  

Melissa and her team have one simple wish: to spread acts of kindness, because “there’s nothing sweeter than seeing a child smile,” she says. To donate and help support not only the Brooke Erin Posey Foundation but the New Orleans community, visit or