Clearwater, FL -- When we first heard about Bob and Janet Ferguson, we learned they were the type of people you would want to be a part of your family.
The Fergusons were recently honored by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Morton Plant Mease for their contributions to our community, especially for their work with those battling cancer. They were honored at a Morton Plant Hospital luncheon to celebrate logging more than 15,000 volunteer hours between the two of them in the last decade.
The Clearwater couple volunteers at Camp Living Springs, a free weekend retreat for adult cancer survivors in Ellenton. They too, have faced cancer.
"It was a very small tumor when it was discovered," Janet told 10 News 12 years ago, when an MRI revealed she had breast cancer. It was soon after Bob was asked to put his experience to use.
"The woman said, 'Oh, you worked at a summer camp. We have a camp for cancer survivors. We'd love you to be part of that.' So it was natural," Bob said.
Soon after, Janet also volunteered and this husband and wife team became a staple, and eventually camp directors too.
"It's a wonderful three-day experience for cancer survivors, which includes people that are still going through treatment or they could be in remission for 10, 12 years. They go away for three days to a conference center in Ellenton and all sorts of fun activities are provided for them."
Janet added, "The main purpose is to give them an opportunity to share with other people what they've gone through. Not everybody has someone at home they can talk about it with, share with. They laugh and laugh and laugh and as I've said, many times it's a chance for them to take off their wigs and go bare headed which they can't do all the time."
Two years ago, Bob found himself at Camp Living Springs as a cancer survivor, too. He had prostate cancer and went through 44 rounds of radiation.
Neither of them feel they struggled with the disease. The camp is a testament that others may have it much worse.
"I always enjoyed working with people, helping people, listening to people and the camp experience for these people was a very special part of their recovery and their therapy and of course the volunteers really enjoy helping people who are having some struggles. I didn't personally struggle with my cancer," Bob said.
The Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes Program awarded them $50,000, money they will in turn use to ensure campers keep coming back.
"All of our life we have been connected with not-for-profits. Being a school teacher, being a YMCA director. We're people that like to share what we have with others," Bob said.
The couple is honored by the award.
"It's absolutely wonderful. We have been on a high for three weeks. It's just been a great experience for us. And we appreciate it tremendously," Bob said.
The Fergusons told us they receive as much as they give when they volunteer.
If you are interested in going to Camp Living Springs or volunteering for Morton Plant or the camp, click on the links provided.