New Day Foundation for Families was founded in memory of two extraordinary individuals, Matt Kell and Cathy Spehn, whose legacies of family, faith, and generosity are the driving force behind our passion to serve the cancer community. New Day is an extension of the love and faith that defined their lives.
Matt and Cathy grew up as friends in Rochester, Michigan attending the same schools from grade school to college. Their lives intertwined early on, but after attending Michigan State University, Cathy married Michael Spehn and they soon began a family. Motherhood was a completely fulfilling role for Cathy. Being a mom to Charlotte, Jack and Daniel was her heart’s desire and her greatest source of joy. Cathy personified her favorite motto: life, love, laughter. Her gentle demeanor and kindness were the defining traits of her personality and lifestyle.
Similarly, Matt met his wife, Gina, while attending Michigan State University. They married in 1992 and started a family in 1999. Being the father of Andrew and Samuel, was by far his greatest source of pride and joy. He loved sharing his affinity for sports, cars and music with his boys. As their family grew, so too did Matt’s professional life. His advertising career took off and at 32 he became the General Sales Manager at WDIV-TV in Detroit.
In the midst of his great success, Matt was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer, leiomyocarcoma. He lived with cancer for over three years and used the disease to share his faith and bring friends and family to an understanding of their personal relationship with Christ. He lost his battle with the disease on Christmas Day 2005.
At Matt’s funeral, Pastor Karl Galik told the congregation about the “applause of heaven” and what incredible joy it must be to enter the gates of heaven. His last words to the congregation that day were, “…and look… here you come.” Sitting in the pews that day was Cathy Spehn, who could have never imagined what was about to happen next.
On February 11, 2006 Cathy walked into the emergency room at Beaumont Hospital complaining of painful headaches. Tragically, just seventeen days later she passed away from inoperable brain cancer.
In the wake of these unimaginable losses, Matt and Cathy’s legacies merged in another profound and unexpected way with the marriage of their surviving spouses.
Their story is told in The Color of Rain, as co-authored by their late spouses, Michael Spehn and Gina Kell Spehn. The beauty of their story is that it continues every day through New Day Foundation.