Marketing master, promotional princess, and advertising achiever Melanie Miller came to Lake Nona just in time for the region to need a hero. This woman is a jack-of-all-trades kind of gal with an excellent sense of intuition: Using her skills, talents, and blessings, Miller is largely to thank for finding Stephanie Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth, a resident of Belle Isle just outside of Lake Nona, was declared missing toward the end of September. The three-week-long search was one of boundless energy and volunteerism, passion, and hard work, before two volunteer drone pilots showed traces of her car in a nearby pond. On the scene, Miller and her husband, Steve, discovered Hollingsworth and the submerged car.
Miller had never met Hollingsworth. She had only mutual friends, a 20-year background in marketing, and a yearning to ease the hurting hearts of her friends. Despite not knowing the person she was looking for, she put all of her energy and talent into the 12- to 14-hour days that kept her busy for three weeks.
“I have been told that I encourage others to live their very best life,” said Miller. “During the search, I felt that I was really there to be a positive, Christlike influence to the family and her close friends fighting to find her.”
The D.C. mentality is fairly obvious in Miller; she is a ruthless worker with infinite success stories, including work with the Washington Redskins and various charities, and has a passion that could light a torch. She wanted action, and she wanted to bring peace to Hollingsworth, her friends, and her family.
“I could not stand to see these friends hurting. All I wanted to do was help them find her friend,” Miller explained.
The Lake Nona Walmart was homebase for all of the search parties and communications. Miller showed up and offered her platform to spread the word about Hollingsworth. She contacted every news outlet, social media account, and every source of public information. For three weeks, Hollingsworth’s face was absolutely everywhere. People from all over Florida pitched in to help in the search for her. Miller’s reach and expertise in the field of marketing brought two volunteers in with a drone.
Together, Miller, Steve, and drone operators Ken and Rick found her. Because of this woman who happened to have a lifetime of marketing experience, a family in our own community has closure and peace and may begin grieving.
Hollingsworth’s sweet husband, Scott, reached out to me to make sure Miller was getting the honor and recognition she deserved. After the search ended, their families became incredibly close.
“She spent many nights with us until the morning hour,” Scott described. “What may surprise you is that, aside from her critical help professionally, Mel’s heartfelt support, energy, and love played an even larger role to myself and the family.”
At the top of the list of things Scott and Miller wanted for the community after this is to be able to reach out and ask for help. You are never alone. If you or anyone you know is thinking about giving up or if you feel alone, anxious, or depressed, please reach out. Anyone can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to get help. You can remain anonymous, and there are many free options for you to speak to a professional. Don’t give up. You are loved.
Melanie Miller is a powerhouse of a woman. Her tenacity, empathy, faith, and trade made her exactly who the Hollingsworth family needed – along with the efforts of Hollingsworth’s best friends, family and the rest of Central Florida, Miller’s leadership and advertising efforts are the reason Stephanie Hollingsworth came home.
Photos Courtesy of Melanie Miller