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UPDATE: 35,000 ways to spread hope

2nd annual Doors of EnCOURAGEment effort exceeds last year by $8,000

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Melody Couchman, the primary Doors of EnCOURAGEment auction organizer, gets a hug from her friend Jeff Beelman after he paid $1,000 and donated back to her a door she created for the Tuesday event that raised money for the Logan County Cancer Society.

Pay it forward. Pay it back. However you look at it, Logan County residents came together Tuesday evening to pay a lot of cash for doors that help locals dealing with cancer.

The Doors of Encouragement auction, which culminated the month-long display of artistic doors that have decorated downtown Bellefontaine throughout April, generated $19,400 plus more than $15,600 it had raised prior to the auction for the Logan County Cancer Society.

The highest price paid for a door at the auction was $1,100 and went to Tara Wagner, who bought the door in honor of her husband Kim who died Oct. 10 of pancreatic cancer.

She said it was a gift to a family because she and Kim were the recipients of a random act of kindness at last year’s auction.

“The reason I bought this was to pay it forward,” Mrs. Wagner said. “My intention was to buy it and donate it to someone in Kim’s memory.”

The couple did not attend last year’s auction as Mr. Wagner was dealing with his early rounds of radiation treatment, Mrs. Wagner said. But when they returned from one such treatment the following day, they found a surprise door bought by Tammy Allison and Vicki Fay, both of Mary Rutan Hospital, adorning their back yard.

“We looked at that our entire battle and it brought us hope,” Mrs. Wagner said.

Although she did not personally know Fred and Jackie Penrod, to whom the door she bought was dedicated, she met their family members at the auction and decided they were worthy recipients of yet another act of kindness.

“They were here just watching and wanted to see who bought it,” Mrs. Wagner said. “I was asking myself who am I going to do this for and I knew it should be them.”

Later, after Mrs. Wagner's successful bid, Jeff Beelman offered to split the cost of the door in honor of his father Mike Beelman and together they presented it to the Penrod family.

Others who paid top dollar for doors also joined in the giving spirit.

Becky Nicholl outbid the Holland Theatre board to pay $600 for the door her daughter-in-law Megan Nicholl painted and she donated it back to the theater.

“I just think it’s a beautiful door and it needs to be somewhere everyone can see it,” Mrs. Nicholl said. “There’s no better place for it.”


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Auctioneer Mick Lile, center, accepts a bid on a door as Joe Jackson, left, and Bill Prater look for other bidders during the Doors of EnCOURAGEMENTment auction Tuesday evening that raised money for the Logan County Cancer Society.


Rick Farley of Jennings Farley Funeral Home also went out of the way with a $900 bid to outpace Shear Changes owner Vicky Arnold, whose support of the doors project this year also included an $830 donation from a raffle of beauty supplies. And the funeral home donated the door back to its creator.

“I’ve known her for a while and I knew this was the right thing to do,” Mr. Farley said.

But one of the most touching moments came when Melody Couchman, the owner of Wren’s Florist who is the primary organizer of the event, watched the son of her deceased godfather, Jeff Beelman, buy her the door she created.

“That’s the kind of stuff this is all about,” Ms. Couchman said after a tearful hug with her friend. “I know some pretty amazing people and that’s what this is all about.

“It’s just such an honor to be part of it and it’s pretty cool to stand here and watch it all happen.”

The $35,000-plus the event raised this year is up from $27,000 in its first year in 2012.

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Tori Hurley, 8, gets excited about a door at the Doors of EnCOURAGEment auction Tuesday evening as her mother Billi Hurley and grandmother Lea Del Hurley discuss the artwork. EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES

Mrs. Allison, the spokeswoman for the Mary Rutan Foundation that oversees the Logan County Cancer Society, said the funds raised in the inaugural event helped 262 cancer patients with medicine, 121 with medical supplies, 26 with wigs, 23 with mammograms and 35 with gasoline cards for transportation to and from radiation treatments outside Logan County.

“One hundred percent of this money stays local to help Logan County residents with a cancer diagnosis,” she said. “But this event is so much more than that. It has brought awareness and financial support, but it has also provided therapy to the loved ones who have lost someone to cancer.”

Ms. Couchman echoed those sentiments in her remarks to the crowd.

“This event is about so much more than a bunch of doors on display,” she said. “It’s about everybody who’s here, everybody who did a door and all those people the doors honor.”

Editor's Note: This article adds detail about Mr. Beelman offering to share the cost of the highest price door.

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