Family and friends of the heroic nurse who died one year ago after saving seven people from strong water currents marked the anniversary of her death with a charity washer toss tournament.

Michelle Curtis jumped into the water with her sister Kendra Baldwin at MacLeod’s Beach in Inverness, N.S., about 153 kilometres west of Sydney, N.S., after swimmers, including her son and daughter, were caught in a riptide.

Curtis and Baldwin were able to bring the swimmers back to shore when Curtis collapsed. Paramedics were not able to resuscitate her.

“I know that she knew that the kids were okay, and I know how much that would have been important to her,” Baldwin told CTV Atlantic. “That’s what she went in there to do was to save them.”

The event is meant to be a fun celebration of Curtis’ life, according to Curtis’ mother, Diane White.

The washer toss boxes have all been decorated with titles of Curtis’ favourite songs by friends and family, according to the event page.

“All of her friends and family have taken part in building the boxes, getting everything ready and getting donations,” said White.

Curtis, a registered nurse in the palliative care unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, had gone back to school, doing a distance degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. According to Baldwin, Curtis’ husband accepted the degree on her behalf in April.

The day is especially difficult for Curtis’ father, whose birthday is the day after the anniversary of Curtis’ death. According to White, they still remember how Curtis told them she’d be over for dinner and cake the next day.

“She left smiling, going to the beach,” said White. “We left to head home and our daughter Kendra called us on the phone to tell us to go back.”

Half of the money raised will go to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. The other half will go to the Breton Education Centre Scholastic Fund in Curtis’ name to help a student heading into nursing.