Polly Stottlemire had just one wish for her 50th birthday: to be on a special mash-up version of The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal. Again.
In 1998, she and her daughter, Samantha, had spent a week in Los Angeles where Polly was a contestant on The Price Is Right, but didn't win. Samantha was chosen for Let's Make a Deal but was zonked after picking a door that had something worthless behind it.
Game show interviewers look for people with personality. People who are so happy it borders on the obnoxious. A former cheerleading coach, Polly is naturally enthusiastic. But when she told her husband, Allen, about her birthday wish, he was the opposite.
Business hadn't taken off yet. The Maryland transplants were renovating their Loxahatchee home. Their kitchen was such a disaster they were temporarily using a wash basin in the backyard.
Anticipating push-back, Polly pulled out plane tickets. In May 2016, they were the second couple in line at the television studio. Each time someone else was called in, however, the odds for their standby tickets grew slimmer.
"We were the last two people to get on," she says.
Game shows have a rigorous screening and interview process, but Polly didn't leave her chances to chance. She instructed Allen what to say so they'd select her. Expecting Allen to promote her, her own interview was subdued.
Allen shakes his head at the memory.
"I blew it," he said. "I was so wound up by that time, I went on and on that I was so excited about being there, I didn't care if all I won was a toaster oven. It broke my heart when they picked me."
"He stole my thunder," Polly says with a grin, while Allen credits her with his success.
"She's incredible with prices," he says. "I looked to her for help."
Even when he thought she was wrong, he went with Polly's mouthed guidance from her audience seat. As a result, he won cash, a BMW and other prizes.
"We sold the BMW so we could finish the house, tripling its value," Allen explains.
He also bought Polly a Harley to replace the motorcycle she'd sold at a time when they needed money.
"They say the Lord works in mysterious ways," he says. "This was a miracle."
The Stottlemires see their love story as a bit of a miracle as well. One frigid day in 2011, Allen - a Special Forces veteran - rode his Harley to a Maryland bar. Under a beanie and weather-protective leather, his face was barely visible when a woman approached, pointing to Polly across the room, hinting that he should ask her friend to dance.
One look was all it took.
"When I offered to buy Polly a drink, she asked for a soda," he says. "I was drinking soda, too. What are the odds of that happening at a bar?"
The next day he called to ask her out; she was too busy. Allen offered to be her transportation.
"We drove all over Baltimore," he said. "It blossomed into friends, then best friends, then amazing friends, then more."
The couple married eight months later in the U.S. Virgin Islands, giving them a taste for the tropics that led to their move to Florida in 2014.
Despite having been raised to attend church, both had left in the midst of various life crises. They had four children between them. They began to attend again. Eventually, they helped their church minister to the homeless. When they moved south, they brought the desire to help others with them.
Allen says that while not every church reaches out to certain people, they found one that did. With another couple, they ministered at Bryant Park in Lake Worth every Thursday, grilling food for perhaps 60 homeless men and women. In case law enforcement tried to disperse the gathering, "We called it breakfast with our family and friends," he says.
Polly points out that Christians often dwell on the things they shouldn't be doing instead of what they should be doing.
"There's basically two things: Love God, love your neighbor," she says. "And neighbor is everybody. The dirty and undesirable. Alcoholics and addicts, the homeless."
Relatively new to Port St. Lucie, having arrived in 2020, the Stottlemires attend Christ Fellowship Church and dream of organizing a Christian motorcycle group.
"My tattoos tell stories about my life and open doors for talking to young people and the homeless," Allen says. "People need love and acceptance. They've had trauma - it didn't start with addiction. I've been there. With my wife's help and with God, I'm still alive and kicking."
He pulls up his shirt to reveal a particular tattoo - the word Angel. Polly explains that she was born prematurely, weighing only 3 pounds, 11 ounces. Because survival for preemies in 1964 was rare, her father called her his miracle baby Angel, a name that stuck.
Unlikely events have characterized the Stottlemires' relationship from the beginning. Once, Allen commented that he wished his mother had met Polly before she passed away.
Months later, Polly saw a photograph and exclaimed, "That's Lotto Dolly!" For years, Allen's mother had bought scratch-off lottery tickets at a store Polly managed.
Another time, they drove to West Virginia so that Polly could meet Allen's relatives there, only to discover that a cousin already knew her. Their respective families had grown up only 20 minutes apart. One of Allen's cousins had even married one of Polly's cousins.
The couple believes that God led them to Florida and brought them to Port St. Lucie - in Allen's words, "Paradise." He is a fine-grade operator for Community Asphalt, "playing in the dirt like when I was a boy."
Polly is a licensed Realtor with Bowen Realty.
"During the pandemic, the market actually improved," she says. "Business is booming - a good thing but it's 10 times harder. A house might get 20 offers."
COVID-19 also affected the game show process. In the past, an aspiring contestant could print tickets from a computer and just show up to stand in line. Now hopefuls must submit identification and proof of vaccination as well as agreeing to a COVID test one day prior to the taping.
Extra steps have never deterred Polly, who fell in love with game shows as a child. In October, she met her son and daughter in Las Vegas, driving through the desert in hopes of winning spaces on The Price Is Right. Not only was Polly selected to be a contestant, she won a new computer and a trip to Canada. The episode aired Nov. 10.
Polly gave the prizes to her children.
"It's not about the stuff," she says.
Now that one item is scratched off her bucket list, she's on to other things. She and Allen want to travel. Polly's working on a book geared to strengthening marriages.
Like game shows, it's a subject Polly and Allen Stottlemire know well. In their case, they've learned that families truly do stay together when they pray … and play together.