For much of Abby Miller's life, she's helped others.
Since she met a little girl diagnosed with neuroblastoma five years ago, she's done all she could to fight the cause. Abby, now 14, has used her talent as a singer and guitarist to raise more than $500,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Her selfless work has caught the attention of the national stage. Abby was recently named one of the nation's top youth volunteers for 2012, earning her the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She shares the title as one of the two top Virginia youth volunteers with 10-year-old Logan Ratzlaff of Charlottesville.
Abby, a Potomac Falls High School freshman, never thought she'd receive any notable recognition for her efforts to help 6-year-old Taylor Love. Her fundraisers started out small. She stood on a sidewalk outside an ice cream shop, strummed her guitar and sang, and collected $101.81-she remembers it down to the penny.
"I do because that seemed like so much to me," Abby said.
She has performed in parks, stores, train stations, malls, schools and hospitals to bring in donations for American Childhood Cancer Association and raise awareness of pediatric cancer. She also posted several videos on YouTube that have prompted numerous donations online, and inspired other young people to join her cause (abbymillermusic.com).
Abby's mother, Janet Miller, said her daughter was so impacted by seeing another young girl just like herself battling cancer she couldn't help but join the fight.
"There were sacrifices for her, but she never thought of it that way," she said.
And Abby is far from hanging up her guitar. Her hope is to expand her performances and fundraisers to bring major sports teams on board.
She doesn't know how far her efforts will go, and how many more donations she can bring in, but Abby says one thing is for sure, she will always play music and help those in need.
"I want to have music in my life as I get older no matter what," she said. "And I'll always be volunteering or just doing things for other people, especially with kids for cancer. It's a part of me now."
Abby was nominated for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award by Potomac Falls Principal Janice Koslowski. With the award, Abby will receive $1,000 and an engraved silver medallion. She will meet the nation's 102 top youth volunteers in Washington, DC in May, and 10 of them will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2012.