"That's what I was hoping for, just a miracle..." says Patricia Jean Nash-Ryder.
The 16-year-old from Brevard, Florida, near Orlando, had gone swimming in the St. John's River with her cousins. Soon afterwards, she didn't feel right. Nash-Ryder was worried.
"She came to me complaining of a serious bad headache. She threw up about twenty times. She said, 'Will you please just take me to the hospital, I can't handle the pain anymore,' " said Nash-Ryder.
Surgery was performed to relieve pressure caused by swelling on her brain, but ten days after she went swimming, Courtney died.
The stunning truth was that she had been infected in the water by a deadly amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating parasite.
"When they told me it was amoeba, I lost it. I mean I was like a wet noodle, fell to the floor," said Nash-Ryder.
Courtney apparently inhaled river water through her nose allowing the amoeba to reach her brain, and the fatal infection set in.
The amoeba usually grows in warm bodies of stagnant water, but Courtney was infected in a river!
"We've been swimming there for sixty years, I mean, generation after generation after generation," Nash-Ryder said.
Friends and loved ones held a march in memory of Courtney, and to help the family with medical bills.
Courtney dreamed of being a doctor. Just a week before that fateful swim, she had gotten her driver's license and signed up to be an organ donor.
"She was just so caring and giving," said Nash-Ryder.