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Tampa Bay area women organize fundraising effort to help find missing friend in Maui

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – An effort to help fund the search for a missing woman in Maui has raised more than $35,000 in one day.

Amanda Eller, 35, went for a hike Wednesday morning at Makawao Forest Reserve on the Island of Maui in Hawaii.

She hasn’t been seen since. Hawaiian officials found her car and her cell phone in the car, but have not found Eller.

Eller is originally from Maryland, but lived in St. Petersburg from 2011 to 2015.

She worked at Bayfront Medical Center and easily made friends.

“We clicked immediately, professionally and then when we started talking about hobbies and recreational stuff and we both liked to be on a boat, in the water, at the beach,” said Shanna Olenik.

Olenik and Eller worked together and developed a friendship outside of work.

Olenik was shocked when she learned her friend was missing.

“That doesn’t happen to people you know. That doesn’t happen to your friends. That happens to some random person in Hawaii, not your friend,” said Olenik.

A number of Eller’s friends have put together the GoFundMe account to help pay for the private search effort, and have not given up hope she will be found.

“Amanda is a very strong person. She’s got a medical background. She’s a very spiritual person. She does yoga and she meditates. It sounds cliché but she’s strong of mind and body and so if anything has happened to her, she’s not the type of person who would freak out or panic,” said Olenik.

“If there is somebody that will be able to stick it out and be smart and use resources and save energy and keep themselves alive, it’s Amanda.”

The fundraising effort for the private search can be found by clicking here.

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