Hallmark's "The Color of Rain" the True Story of Gina Kell and Michael Spehn

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Warren Christie

Released:  2014

Summary:  While consoling each other over the recent loss of their spouses, a man and a woman grow close and fall in love.

Image:  Crown Media, United States LLC

Gina Kell and Michael Spehn Find Love Despite Tragedy

You've seen the movie, so you know the plot, but did you catch that it's based on a real-life story?

Gina Kell's husband died on Christmas Day, 2005, from a rare and incurable cancer, leiomyocarcoma, which he battled for three years.

Weeks later, Cathy Spehn died seventeen days after learning her painful headaches were a result of a brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.

It's no wonder the two gravitated toward one another.

It's like parenting--people who have never had children can't really grasp what life with kids is truly like on a daily basis.  Similarly, your heart can hurt for someone who has lost their spouse, but you can't relate to them on deeper levels if you've never gone through it yourself.  Gina and Michael shared the same pain.

Naturally, people gossiped about them getting together so soon, but their hearts were in the right place.  They both were grieving, raising kids on their own, and trying to work.  Their focus was on creating a normal life for their kids.  Gina tried to fill the void Michael's kids had by doing things like cooking a great meal and helping Charlotte shop for bras.  Michael stepped up to the plate when Gina needed someone to teach her kids basketball.  Eventually, both families, through their common pain, formed a loving bond, and it was one that honored the memory of the loves they lost.

Gina's Son Also Diagnosed With Cancer 

As if this family hasn't been through enough, Gina's teenage son, Sam, was diagnosed in 2015 with glioblastoma--the same brain cancer that killed Michael's wife!

Sam Kell and Gina Spehn from their Facebook Page

You can follow Gina's "Pray for Sam Kell" Facebook page here.

The 5-year survival rate for this type of cancer in childhood is 20%, but Sam is the eternal optimist who continues to beat the odds.

New Day Foundation For Families 

The Spehns created New Day Foundation to help families who need financial assistance while battling cancer.  The foundation officially started in 2007 from their kitchen table, but has now grown into a sophisticated non-profit with an office space in Rochester, Michigan.

Many who hear their story or that of their son, Sam, flock to make donations to the family, but Gina directs all donations to the foundation to help other families.  Michael is a successful financial planner, and Gina recently began drawing a salary from the foundation (after doing it for many years as charitable work), so they are grateful for their many blessings.  In addition, speaking engagements keep them busy.

You can visit the New Day Foundation website to learn more about the family, their mission, and how to get involved. 

Gina and Michael Are Strong Christians

Hallmark typically avoids movies about faith, undoubtedly to keep from  alienating viewers with different religious convictions.  

In this movie, Michael even appears to reject God as he reels from the inexplicable loss of his wife.

The truth is, both Michael and Gina Spehn are devout Christians whose strong faith and relationship with Jesus Christ has been their source of strength, hope, and optimism during life's most difficult moments.  With every uncertainty, they turn to God, pray, seek God's guidance, and ultimately put their situation into His hands.

In fact, when Matt Kell was fighting cancer, he used the disease to share his faith in Christ.  He even said he was in a win-win situation--he would either be cured, or he'd get to meet his Savior sooner.  He assured everyone not to worry because he knew where he was going.  Can you say the same?  

Gina's Facebook page, Pray for Sam Kell, is often sprinkled with faith-filled biblical passages, and Sam's faith is just as strong as his father's.

Even though Gina's and Michael's faith is downplayed in the movie, it's actually what pulled them through their darkest hours.

The Video Diaries From Matt Kell Are Real

When I watched the heart-wrenching video clips from the video diaries Matt Kell left for Gina and the boys, I figured they were added by Hallmark for dramatic effect.  Wrong--the diaries are real! 

Matt actually gave Gina his blessing to find love again, and his blessing extended to the man who earned her love.  The video blew her away.  Matt said, "Grieve me and live on--I want you to live on, love, and to laugh.  We will meet again.  But in the meantime, I want you to thrive in this world and to do what God has put you here to do."

Cathy Spehn, right before she died, also instructed Michael, "Call Gina Kell."

What inspirational people.  It also shows God can take tragedy and bring something wonderful from it.

The Color of Rain Was First a Book By Gina and Michael

Gina and Michael wanted to share their story to encourage others that faith, hope, and love can be found, even in the midst of tragedy.  They co-authored the book, The Color of Rain, in 2011, which became a New York Times bestselling memoir.  You can find it on Amazon.  Here's the link:

The Color of Rain is currently unavailable on DVD through Amazon, but you can purchase it on Prime Video.

Before the movie was released in 2014, Gina and Michael did an interview with Channel Guide Magazine.  If you love the movie, you won't want to miss this interview.  It's in-depth, plus it talks about the ways Hallmark involved them in the movie-making process.  Gina also gushes that Lacey Chabert is "the nicest person on the planet."  We already knew that!  That's our Lacey.  You can find the interview here 

I'm wondering why we haven't seen more of Warren Christie in Hallmark movies?  He's been busy doing television, but he's a heart throb who should be on Hallmark!

Follow Gina Spehn on Twitter

In addition to the link to their foundation and Facebook pages, you can also follow Gina on Twitter--@ginakellspehn.

You can definitely see the resemblance!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Not all Hallmark movies will make you weep and burn through a box of Kleenex like The Color of Rain, but we share our thoughts on all of them in our Facebook group.  Plus, we have periodic contest giveaways you don't want to miss!  We would love for you to join us.  Find us here:

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