I grew up on a small farm near Dayton, Ohio. I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time my Dad and I walking along our driveway. All of a sudden, he bent over and said, "Look at this Doug." I came over and he pointed out my first four leaf clover. He let me pick it and I was enthralled and wanted to find another. We walked to the house and he said, "Grab a book and I'll show you how to press it and it will stay good forever." Ever since that day, my passion has grown stronger and stronger for finding them. My dad has since passed and every time I go out to look for clovers I feel like he's right there with me.
The years of collecting 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 leafs have been a calming, relaxing and an exciting part of my life. It is always there for me, even in the winter. My plan is to find as many as I can from spring through fall, and even sometimes during winter months. In the winter months, I also laminate them. Therefore, it's a year-round hobby.
When I met my wife and her three children, I couldn't wait to share my passion for hunting clovers with them. I always treated her children as my own. I made albums of their very own to show off their treasures. With the youngest, we would go to the park and I played the "fishing game" with him. Whoever finds the first, whoever finds the most, and whoever finds the biggest four leaf clovers wins. There was nothing to win but the bragging rights, but having three categories to win in just made it a little more fun.
Now, the fun has passed down a generation to Corey, his fiancée, Natalie, and her son, Owen, who in today's technology of video games and iPads, still loves the excitement of hunting for four leafs and being in nature. My daughter, Jami, was impacted by me collecting four leafs and got a beautiful four leaf tattooed on the top of her foot. The only thing is, when we're walking in the grass, I always want to pick it. When my son, Dan, and his wife, Brittany, had their first baby, it hit me as to how I can use the dates associated with all my clovers. After leaving the hospital, I came right home and ran out to the yard and began picking four leafs. I wanted to have them for the whole family to remember and cherish the date that Sadie was born. "What a great little keepsake for everyone," I thought. At that point, I said to myself, "What am I doing with over 5,000 clovers in my possession, when I can be spreading the faith, hope, love and luck all throughout the world?"
My wife, Joan, and I own a fitness studio called The Studio Fitness located in Vandalia, Ohio. Every St. Patrick's Day, I set the clovers out and let our patrons take one. It makes me feel good to see people's faces light up and smile when they walk away with one, and even better when months later they show me that it is still in their purse or wallet.
In 1996, I was 25 years old and something happened in my life that I wasn't completely ready to deal with yet. With the help and persuasiveness of my wife, she sought out medical attention for me and I was quickly diagnosed with having a mental illness disease called bipolar disorder. In my case, I was having extreme highs and lows. This is something I was born with, but didn't understand until Joan insisted that I get help. From that point on, my life had a clarity that I had not felt before. I don't know how my life would have turned out if it wasn't for Joan. Looking for clovers is very therapeutic for me. I use it as a coping tool to relax my mind. Being with nature is also enjoyable.
Joan found NAMI ( National Alliance for Mental Illness) and I was quickly drawn to them. This was the first time in my life I could fit in with people just like me and not feel awkward . A portion of the proceeds of each clover will go to the non-profit organization known as NAMI. This organization is currently changing my life. If you know anyone with a mental illness, please reach out and be there for them. All we need is love and hope.