MAUI, Hawaii (FOX 13) - A woman with ties to Tampa Bay, who had been missing for more than two weeks, was found alive by a helicopter Friday night in a vast forest reserve near Maui, Hawaii after going for a hike.
Thanks to more than $70,000 raised in donations, loved ones of Amanda Eller were able to charter a helicopter, which ultimately helped find her.
"The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest," Eller said.
The 35-year-old woman was all smiles just moments after being found.
She hadn't been seen for 17 days after taking a hike at a forest reserve in Hawaii. She was last seen shopping at a market back on May 8, just minutes before she left for her hike.
"It's just a miracle our daughter has come home to us," Eller's mother Julia said.
Her parents traveled from North Carolina to Hawaii, joining a group of more than 1,000 volunteers all searching for their daughter.
"I had those moments of despair," Julia Eller said. "It was hard going out there every day high on hope that we were going to find her. I felt in my heart that my daughter was alive."
Eller suffered from a fractured tibia, skin infection and severe sun burns, but is expected to be OK.
"Seeing the way that the community of Maui came together, people that know me, people that don't know me all came together just under the idea of helping one person to get out of the woods alive. It just warms my heart," Eller said.
Friends had started a Facebook page to help find Amanda. Her story captivated the nation and got the attention of people from all over the world.
"This was all about us coming together for a greater purpose of community and love and appreciation for life," Eller said.