Columbus woman spray-paints inspirational message during COVID-19 crisis

Michelle Graef has been traveling from Columbus to Dayton to Cincinnati to share a positive message (Bryant Somerville - 10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Letha and Wendy Miller Pugh have owned Bake Me Happy the last six years. The last two weeks have been hard.

With the spread of COVID-19, they're still in business with modified hours and a focus on keeping staff and customers safe.

Even then, anxiety finds a way.

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"I think probably this last week, there's a mental and emotional toll with all this, too," Letha said.

Mental and emotional tolls weigh heavy on us all. They are hard parts of our day.

Michelle Graef knows that.

A couple weeks ago, with all that is going on, Graef says she felt anxious.

"So, I decided to do something to change that," she said. "I figured the only thing I could do was change my attitude."

She made a stencil and spray-painted her driveway. She posted the picture to social media.

"A few of my friends said 'Come do my driveway'," she said. "It kind of snowballed from there."

She created an Instagram page; an invitation for anyone needing a positive message. Friday afternoon, Graef's social reach landed on Plymouth Avenue in Bexley.

"I don't know her, but we met on Instagram," Graef said. "She let me come to her driveway."

"This is like a nice ray of sunshine and positivity," Heather Whaling said.

Whaling did this for her son, Evan.

"I thought it would be a nice, fun thing for him to see and I liked the message," she said. "I think it's an important message for people to remember now."

Graef spray-painted her popular "You can do hard things" message on Whaling's driveway.

Graef does it for free and she has traveled from Columbus to Dayton to Cincinnati for the cause.

"The way people are coming together and rallying when you can't be close to each other is really neat," she said.

Some people donate to her cause, paying for supplies and travel. The rest of it is being donated to ROX, or Ruling Our Experiences. It's a local non-profit that mentors and educates young women.

"I think that's super important," Graef said. "An organization that can make women like Dr. Amy Acton out there."

Another stop for Graef, Friday, was to Bake Me Happy.

"I just felt like it was completely appropriate for us here at our shop," Letha said.

A message and reminder for whomever might need it: Together, we can all do hard things.

"We're all in this together," Letha said. "We're all doing something hard."

Graef has also partnered with Life Long Tees. They have created a shirt and all the money raised will go to ROX.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 34,208 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,080 people have died from the virus and 6,205 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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