I love when something wonderful emerges during times of great tragedy, and that is exactly what happened for one Fairdale man and one South Beloit woman.

I instantly got goosebumps when I saw this post of the Rockford Register Star's Facebook page on Valentine's Day, and knew I HAD to know more.


Tom Bell lost nearly everything when the tornado hit Fairdale, Illinois last April and sadly, Tom is no stranger to devastating destruction. About five years before the tornado hit, his home off Irene Road  was destroyed by a fire. Ever since the fire Tom hasn't been able to afford insurance. He did get his home rebuilt, but it has no appliances or flooring, and the basement where Tom sleeps is the only place that has electricity.

I remember hearing Tom's tragic story in the wake of the tornado from a co-worker and husband who made it their mission to help him get back on his feet. Several community members and businesses came to help Tom rebuild and clean up, and he made it a point to chat with and thank every person who came by, but there was one woman who stood out above all the rest. Her name is Stephanie Franchini. Tom told the Register Star that when people ask how he and Stephanie met he replies, "she blew in with the wind."

Like most of us, Stephanie wanted to do something to help the individuals affected by the tornado. She decided to host a fundraiser through her Loves Park business, One Love Candle and Bath, and in two days was able to raise over $2,200 in money and supplies which she delivered to Tom Bell personally. Upon meeting, the connection between the two was immediate. According to the Rockford Register Star, Franchini said:

"We must have talked for a good 20, 30 minutes," Franchini said. "It felt like it was a flash of a second. As silly as it sounds, there was definitely a connection made at that point. To me, it was a totally spiritual thing. Physically, yeah, I thought, 'Wow, this (is) a really attractive guy.' "

After that first meeting Stephanie continued to visit Tom, and the pair became good friends which quickly turned into something more.

As Tom says, "She's the best thing that ever came out of the tornado."

To read more about Tom and Stephanie's love story, read the Register Star's full article, here.