HOLMES BEACH, Fla. - Every now and then, our paths cross with someone who impacts our lives for the better. For people who know Nancy Ambrose, they're grateful their paths have crossed hers.
Whether it's serving on a board to raise funds for cultural events, or taking a patient to an appointment, Nancy is quick to drop what she's doing and lend a hand. Volunteering isn't something she does- it's a spirit she embodies.
On a quiet Monday night at the Anna Maria Island Players Theater, Nancy Ambrose is doing what she does best: making a difference. On this night it's crafting a plan to raise money for a brand new curtain at the theater.
And if you ask anyone who knows her, they'll probably tell you that from fundraising to volunteering, she's pretty good at recruiting them into helping others.
"So people are like 'oh no, here she comes again, what does she want now?" says Ambrose.
Because her friends say she never says 'no' when it comes to helping out.
“She does so much. I can't believe how much she does," says Gretchen Edgren. She says that Nancy is known on the island as the Energizer Bunny. And it's easy to see why.
When she's not working, Nancy is volunteering for Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society on local, state and federal levels; serving with the American Legion Auxiliary, serving as president for the Island Players Theater group, president of the North American Butterfly Association -- even helping to build a butterfly park.
She also serves as the press and publicity director of the Anna Maria Concert Chorus and Orchestra, and assisting the homeless with the Family Promise Program.
A few years ago, Nancy even helped organize correspondence between a soldier in Afghanistan and school children from Anna Maria Island, which turned into a lesson for those kids. And when Nancy heard Major Rick Ely had never been to Florida, she arranged a trip; not just for him, but his whole family -- paid for with hard work and donations.
"Everything she does, she does well. You can do a lot of things, but whatever she does, she does to perfection," says Edgren.
But perhaps the cause that hits closest to home for Nancy is the one to fight cancer. She works tirelessly to raise awareness for cancer research, traveling to Tallahassee and Washington DC to lobby on behalf of cancer patients.
As someone who has fought cancer more than once -- a “cancer warrior”, as she calls herself -- Nancy says as strange as it sounds, getting cancer was a blessing, because it created a passion in her to help find a cure. “I made a pact with someone I was going through treatment with. She was the same age as me; I made a pact with her that she wouldn't die in vain. I really, truly believe if we all work together we will find a cure."
And if we're lucky, we might also find more people like Nancy.