At times, the most generous acts come from places you would never expect. As long as we open our minds and our eyes, people all around can surprise us. Although misconceptions are common, it’s important to challenge them to see the good in the world. This is exactly what Sarah Darling experienced when she encountered a homeless man in her Kansas City community.
When she saw the man begging for money in a street corner, her heart broke, and she decided to give him some change. She dug in her purse, threw some change in, and went on with her day and didn’t think much of it. Sadly, when Sarah got home, she realized her beautiful and sentimental, diamond ring was missing. She went to confront the man to see if he has it. That’s when she immediately understood that this experience is turning into a love changing story.
Sarah Darling is the owner of a Yoga Studio, and she was devastated when she lost her diamond engagement ring! She barely even let it out of her sight, but unfortunately, earlier that day, Sarah injured her finger and had to remove the ring. She didn’t really have much choice. For safekeeping, Sarah put the ring in her purse until her finger healed.
On that exact day, Sarah walked but a homeless man who she saw sitting in the street pretty often. She went over to him and dug through her purse for some loose change and put it in the man’s donation cup. Sarah felt happy for doing a good deed and went about her day without a second thought.
Realizing What Happened
It wasn’t until Sarah arrived home when she realized that she lost her ring. She was heartbroken when she searched her purse, and it was nowhere to be found. In an interview, Sarah reflected back on that devastating moment and said, “It was horrible. It was such a feeling of loss. It meant so much to me beyond just the financial value.”
Once she realized that the ring was missing, Sarah kept retracing her steps in her mind, trying to figure out where the ring could be. She then recollected opening up her purse when she tried to find change for the homeless man in the street. She decided to go back over there and hopefully track down the homeless guy.
Retracing Her Steps
Sarah just assumed that when she dropped the change in the homeless man’s cup, the ring must have accidentally fallen out. It was the only time she opened her purse after she put the ring in. It seemed like the only logical explanation. There wasn’t really anywhere else where the ring could have fallen out.
Sarah just wanted to find him. She knew that there was a very slim chance that the homeless man would be in the same spot a day later, but she was desperate and decided it was worth a shot. She went back to the exact place where she would have dropped the ring, but her ring and the homeless were both nowhere to be found.
Sarah was disappointed and tried coming to grips with the facts that she’s probably never going to see her ring again. Her husband, Bill, didn’t want her to lose all hope and convinced her to look for the man one more time. So the next day, Sarah went back one more time. To her pleasant surprise, the homeless man was there, holding the dame change cup.
For the first time since she lost the ring, Sarah finally felt hopeful. She went over to him and said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that’s very precious to me.” Sarah was brought to tears when he responded and said, “Was it a ring? Yeah, I have it, I kept it for you.”
A Sense of Relief
Sarah felt like a miracle had just occurred. Not only did she feel lucky that her ring was found, but also that it was kept safely for her to come and claimed it. She knew most people (especially homeless) would pawn off the ring. They can maybe buy a few meals or a sweater. Luckily, this man was kind and special.
Sarah didn’t even know what to say or how to thank this man for his kindness. Even though he was just a stranger, she wanted him to understand how much the ring meant to her and how happy she was. She was at a loss for words. She thanked him as much as she could and then took back the ring.
Meeting Billy Ray Harris
Billy Ray Harris is the name of the 55-year-old homeless man that returned Sarah’s ring to her. For many years, begging for money was how Billy Ray lived his life. He was pretty much used to it at this point. He lived in Kansas City on a street corner and spend most of his time holding a cup, and hoping someone passing by will spare some change.
Sadly, Billy Ray has had a tough life. He ended up on the street to fend for himself, 16 years ago, as soon as he lost touch with his family. When the ring first appeared in her change cup, he was obviously conflicted. He wondered how much the ring costs and decided to go to a jeweler and find out.
Making the Right Choice
The Jeweler offered the man $4000 in cash on the spot in exchange for the ring. When the man realized how much he could have gotten for the ring, he knew it must have been worth way more than that. He admitted that he debated selling the ring because that money would have been so helpful to him.
However, after close consideration, he decided to keep it. He knew the ring must have been important to someone, and that it probably had a sentimental value that went beyond its financial worth. That’s when Billy Ray decided to wait for someone to come looking for it. What he didn’t know was that this decision would change the course of his life forever.
Bring back Faith
Sure enough, Sarah went back to Billy Ray’s usual spot just two days later, looking for the ring. When she asked him about it, Harris took out the ring and gave it to her. The man later spoke about how tempting it was for him to sell the small piece of jewelry. Harris explained that “I just couldn’t do it. I’m not saying I’m an angel, but I’m not a devil either.”
Sarah tried to express her gratitude to the kind man as best as she can. He later told her, “I could tell exactly how much it meant to you as soon as I held it up.” When Sarah reflected back at that moment, she happily said, “It just makes you realize there are good people out there.”
Sarah was so grateful and stunned by the homeless man’s honestly. Think about it; he’s a man who asks people for change at a street corner. He clearly doesn’t have money for a place to live and barely has enough to eat. He could have made things much easier for himself if he sold the ring, but he chose to save it.
She couldn’t believe that her wedding ring fell into the cup of such a genuine homeless stranger. Sarah and her husband both wanted to repay Harris for his kindness. They wanted to help him the same way he helped Sarah. “It was just a feeling of loss when it was gone, so I am so eternally grateful for him,” Sarah expressed.
To show their appreciation, Sarah and her husband decided it throw a fundraiser for their new hero. They set up a GoFundMe page and aimed to raise $1000 to give Billy Ray. They didn’t want his actions to be heard and known; this isn’t the type of honesty you see every day. The couple decided to take their story to the internet.
The reactions and responses turned out to be way bigger than they could have ever imagined. People all over the world took it upon themselves to personally share thanks, Billy Ray, for having such a good heart (since most people don’t). The story quickly went viral, and donations were pouring in like crazy!
Sarah and Bill initially started the fundraiser to raise money for Billy. They wanted to help the honest man pay for a few warm meals and buy some clean, fresh clothes. Instead, they made enough money to pay for more than just a new wardrobe.
Sarah explained, “We set it up because a lot of people that were touched by this story expressed interest in helping Billy Ray. We set the goal for $1000 and were hoping to achieve maybe $4000 because that is what he was offered on the spot for the ring.” The more this heartwarming story made its way around the internet, the more donations were coming in.
People felt so inspired but this heartwarming story and wanted to give back to try and make a difference. Since the GoFundMe page was created and donations started pouring in, the story went viral. The homeless man with a sweet, considerate heart even made national headlines. You never know where your one good deed can take you.
When Sarah and Bill set up the fundraising page, they were hoping to raise about $1000 for this homeless stranger who has since become a friend. It turns out; some other people are just as generous. Within just three months, over 8,000 people donated to the fund! The couple raised more than $190,000. Well, that’s a little more than they expected. $189,000 more.
Praise from Around the World
In addition to contributing their hard-earned money to Billy Ray’s donation fund, they also had some nice things to say about his honesty. The donations came from all around the world, not just America. A contributor from England wrote, “In life, what does around comes around Billy- your sweet actions, despite being dire straits yourself prove that there is humility in the world. You are one shining example. Lots of love from across the pond.”
Another person took this opportunity to tell a similar story of their own. “Several years ago, my mother’s ring was stolen from my house. To this day, I recall the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Hopefully, your honest example will encourage others to pay it forward. Kudos to you, Billy Ray.”
Sarah and Bill finally approached Billy Ray with the amazing amount of money that was donated to him. He couldn’t even believe it. He was shocked to find out that this many people heard his story, and he felt so touched that this many people wanted to help him out. Billy Ray already proved to be considerate himself, but he couldn’t really grasp this kind of generosity.
The homeless man, “I like it, but I don’t think I deserve it.” He continued on to explain that his decision to keep the ring shouldn’t have been that big of a deal and that that being good and kind in general should be expected from everyone. “What I actually feel like, what has the world come to when someone returns something that doesn’t belong to him, and all this happens?”
The community in Kansas City continued to praise Harris for his kindness and considerate. “I still see some of the same people,” Billy expressed. “But only now, instead of coming up and giving me change, they’re coming up, shaking my hand and you know, saying ‘hey good job.’”
Billy Ray is a perfect example to show us that truth and honesty always pays off at the end. If he chose to sell the ring, sure, he would have some money for the time being but, he would ultimately be living on the street. Not selling the ring is was got him this newfound fame and generous donations. Billy Ray’s donations turned out to be way more than what he would have gotten for the ring, and it got him off the street.
Not Homeless Anymore
To Billy Ray, the money was an irreplaceable gift. It changed his life and gave him a fresh start. After spending years living on the street, he finally got the chance to turn around his life and get on the right track. He was determined to spend the money wisely. He spoke to a lawyer who helped him set up a trust to save it.
Thanks to all the charitable donations, Billy had enough money to buy a car, something he never thought he would be able to buy. He even put a down payment on a house with his own money. He actually bought a fixer-upper that he plans to renovate himself. What he didn’t know is that his luck was just beginning.
Better than Money
Billy Ray’s life was changed forever. He was a local hero, bought himself a new car, and finally lived in a house. However, this was nothing compared to reuniting with his family. Billy Ray appeared on TV with his story, and some of his family members recognized him. After looking for him for 16 years, they finally tracked him down.
The family has heard rumors that Billy Ray passed away, so seeing him on TV quite the surprise. They never thought that they would find their long lost relative because of a TV special talking about his act of kindness. Of course, they were happy and relieved. Harris now had the opportunity to get himself off the street, and to reconnect with his brothers and sisters.
Long Lost Brother
Billy’s little sister Robin spoke about how she felt when she found out that her brother was alive. “I got on the computer one morning, and I knew it was my brother as soon as I saw the picture. Robin lived in Wichita Fall, Texas, over 500 miles away from her brother, but that didn’t stop her from finding him.
Robin immediately reached out to her big brother. She expressed that “We cried on the phone and talked about how happy we were that we found each other because he said he was worried about me too. He had been gone so long.” Wow! I can’t imagine how overwhelmed I would feel if my brother went missing, and we found him like this.
Billy Ray was filled with so much joy and happiness when his sister reached out to him. “I’m glad that we all got in touch with each other. I was really worried about them, and they were worried about me, and there were so many stories going around in Texas that I was dead of in Arkansas and nobody knew anything.”
Billy then went on to confess that Robin even put him on craigslist trying to find her brother. Now, the formerly homeless man speaks to his family almost every day. He is really excited to get the chance to see them. “We are actually talking about having a family reunion. I can’t wait; I got happy feet.” Luckily, he didn’t have to wait too long.
One Last Surprise
NBC News was following Billy Ray’s story. As soon as they found out that his family, who he hasn’t seen in 16 years, found him, they decided to set up a fun surprise. The Network brought on Billy Ray, Sarah, and Billy to join to show and talk about their heartwarming experience.
They took this opportunity to publically state how grateful they are. Billy Ray’s explained how the support from the community was overwhelming since the day he returned the diamond ring to Sarah. It’s so crazy how one good choice can change your life. It seemed like a standard interview. What Billy Ray did not know, however, is that his family was waiting for him backstage.
After talking to Billy, NBC reported revealed the surprise they had planned. That Robin was at the studio waiting to reunite with her brother after all these years. Billy was understandably shocked. He couldn’t believe it. Then, the talk show host went on and told Billy that Robin wasn’t the only guest. Billy’s brother Edwin, and his two sisters, EJ and Nellie, were waiting backstage with Robin.
As his siblings walked on stage, Billy Ray could not contain his emotions or hold back tears. He gave each one of them a warm hug and didn’t even have the world to express his gratitude and happiness. He managed to say, “This is a really big surprise. I’m in shock.”
During the NBC show, Billy Ray’s sister, Nellie, spoke about how excited she was after Robin found their brother. What are the changes? She explained, “We had been wondering for years, where is he at? Is he alive?” Robin interrupted with uncontrollable tears running down her face and said, “it means the world” that her big brother is back in her life.
As Billy got excited about reuniting with his siblings, he had a much bigger family than he thought. It turns out, Billy Ray was an uncle and had a bunch of nieces and nephews who were so excited to meet him. His brother Edwin said he had a 14-year-old son who was particularly eager to meet his uncle.
Despite all the tears, throughout the entire segment, a huge smile didn’t leave Billy Ray’s face. He even sat with his arm around Robin and still couldn’t believe that all his siblings with there, sitting with him. He said that “I never thought this. This is a total shock.” I mean, imagine not seeing your family in over a decade?
Returning the ring to Sarah was one act of kindness, and he didn’t think much would come from it. But because of that one act, Billy had a whole new life. In addition to being off the streets, Billy had his family again, who welcomed him with open arms. Even though they met on NBC, the family is still planning to have a reunion in the summer.
As a formerly homeless man, Billy appreciates everyone who supported him more than they could ever know. Sarah Darling said, “I want to thank all the people that helped me out. I want them to see where all their efforts, blessings, and kindness is going. Overall, it just makes me feel good.”
She went on to say, “A lot of people came together to change this person’s life when he is someone who really deserves that.” “He definitely seems like his spirit has been rejuvenated. He has the chance to express himself more, you know to buy a new car and buy new clothes.” Even Bill, Sarah’s husband, had some nice things to say about Billy Ray. “He’s just a solid guy, and you can tell he’s probably going to make it out alright.”
Billy Ray now has a close relationship with his siblings and speaks to them almost daily. He was extremely appreciative that one good deed allowed him to reconnect with his family. However, his siblings weren’t the only family he gained through this experience. He also maintained a good relationship with Sarah and Bill.
Since Billy Ray returned the ring and the donations started coming in, the couple really got to know Billy Ray better. Every so often, the three of them meet and catch up. It’s wonderful that they stay in touch, but it’s not that shocking. They made each other’s lives better and that can create an unbreakable bond. It’s important to keep genuine, honest people in your life.
Through this experience, Bill and Billy Ray developed a particularly strong bond. It makes sense. Billy Ray did give back the ring Bill bought his wife. Early on in the story, the two took a liking to each other and have maintained a relationship and will probably continue too for a long time. They are both passionate about sports and often go to baseball or hockey games together.
When they were at NBC, Bill told the host that he felt an immediate connection with Billy Ray since the first time that they met. He stated that “I knew immediately that he was someone that was on the same wavelength as me, and I was looking forward to being able to go chat with him once in a while.”
Looking Back at Their Story
It didn’t take long for Bill and Sarah to realize how well their fundraising page for Billy Ray was going. Bill couldn’t wait to tell the homeless man about the donations that were flooding in for him. After he finally told him the good news, Bill took Harris to get his bike fixed. You can find your closest friends where you would never expect to.
After getting the bike repaired, the two continued their outing and hung out way longer than either one of them expected just getting to know one another. Together, they reflected on this incredible experience and their inspiring story that continued to spread all over the world. All because of Sarah’s engagement ring.
Importance of the Ring
During the meeting, Bill communicated, “We talked about a lot of things related to my family’s ring and the many donations. We talked about in the future, the ring may one day be passed down to my daughter.” Think about it, it’s the ring he gave his wife when he proposed to her. No amount of money could amount to the sentiment.
It didn’t take long for Billy Ray to understand why the ring was so important to the couple. Yes, it was an expensive ring, but it meant so much more to the family. Now they can pass down the ring and this beautiful story with their future children and for generations to come.
Bill and Sarah have jokingly said that for the Kansas City Royals (the Kansas baseball team), Billy Ray is their good luck charm. The couple took Billy Ray to watch six of their games. Every single time that Billy Ray was watching from the stands, the team has one. Wow! That seems pretty lucky! I guess his luck did turn around.
Bill and Sarah don’t just say that they are maintaining a relationship with Billy Ray; he really is a big part of their life. He even went to a game with them while celebrating Bill’s birthday. They are genuinely friends, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch such an unbreakable bond. We can’t wait to see their friendship grow stronger and deeper.
Passing Down the Story
Since meeting, Sarah and Bill have started their own family. They have two wonderful children together. First, they had a daughter and, more recently, a baby boy. After Sarah gave birth to her firstborn daughter, she expressed how excited she is to introduce her to Harris. She wants her to know the story and to understand that this man played an important role in her life.
“I’ve talked to other mothers about this,” Sarah said. “It gives other moms a real tangible story of really teaching kind of the difference between what’s wrong and what’s right.” So much more game from one good dead than anyone initially noticed. Billy Ray’s kind act of kindness helped spread hope, compassion, and a big lesson.
Harris Feels Safe
Billy Ray told Bill that he found a place to stay, and for the first time in years, he feels “safe and sound.” After spending so much time on the street, with no family, friends, or a roof over his head, one good decision changed his life more than he could have ever thought. Always be kind. You never know where good actions can take you.
Looking back, Billy Ray said, “When I think of the past, I think, thank god that it’s over.” After spending so much time feeling like he is worth less than the people around him, it changed. Thanks to Bill, Sarah, and all the generous donations, Billy Ray Harris can finally “feel human again.”
The Impossible Happened
When the GoFundMe page started to take off, the homeless man figured this was all way too good to be true. He said, “I was almost scared to look at it then. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.” When the money did start to come in, Billy Ray was understandably shocked and overwhelmed.
The most surprising part of this whole experience was that in addition to food on his plate, Billy Ray got to connect with his family again. “I didn’t think it was going to happen in my lifetime, being 50-something years old and being out of touch that long, you just figure you ain’t gonna get in touch.” This shows that miracles happen when you least expect it.
New Hopes and Dreams
Harris opened up about “doing a lot of work” on himself. The situation gave me a completely different outlook on life. He is so appreciative that he was given a second chance and doesn’t want it to be a waste. He knows this was a blessing, and he took the opportunity to reflect on himself and his life.
With this new positive perspective, Billy Ray decided to spend wisely and is making a real effort to stay in a good place since he got off of the streets. He now has support from his family and friends, which he also never thought he would have. He is now setting high goals for himself and determined to do things that didn’t seem possible before.
During his NBC News family reunion, the network also wanted to capture Billy Ray finally showing his new car to his friend Bill. Just like Billy Ray never thought he would see his family again, he never imagined owning his very own car! To him, the impossible suddenly became possible.
The video even showed a video where Bill is riding shotgun of Billy Ray’s brand new car! As he looked up to the camera, he jokingly said, “I’ve heard he doesn’t know how to drive… so we’ll see.” Billy Ray just cracks up, and he adjusts the radio screaming, “Liars!” It’s a pretty crazy thing. Not long ago he was in the streets begging for money, now he’s showing off his new car on TV.
Pimping his Ride
We previously mentioned that Billy Ray Harris made a very wise decision to take his newfound fortune and consult with a lawyer. The lawyer was smart and gave Harris all the tight tools that were needed to manage his money. Then he can start making some smart investment choices.
Billy Ray first replaced his bicycle with a black Volkswagen Beetle that he proudly uses to get around. Good! He deserves to buy himself a nice present after 16 tough years on the street. He said, “It’s a ’98 Volkswagen, which I kind of had pimped out a little bit,” It’s so sweet to see how proud he is of his new car. “It’s just an eye-catcher, you know?
Starting a Business
After the whole experience starting sinking in, and Harris was coming to grips with all this money, he was inspired to think big. He first started working on two personal projects at his house. That’s when he came up with the idea to start a business of his own. This new perspective on life has really made him want to work.
Billy Ray told NBC, “I’m thinking about getting a pick-up, a paint gun, two ladders, and some other paint equipment and doing my own paint.” This shows how much this experience lifted his spirits and motivated him to do more. Sometimes people just need a little help and inspiration to push them in the right direction.
Adjusting to his New Life
Even though Billy Ray is now thinking about opening up his own business, he said that one of the toughest parts of this whole thing is learning to think long term. He was in a day-to-day frame of life that was difficult to get out of. He thought of surviving that day, and he didn’t even look towards the future.
The ex-homeless man elaborated on this notion and said, “I’m still in the right-here-right-now mode. You know, that’s one thing I have never been able to get out of. Good luck/bad luck, I’m right here, right now. Whatever happens, happens.” Luckily, he finally has to opportunity to get out of that mentality. It’s so nice to see good things happen to good people.
For many years, Billy Ray spent his days at the Kansas City Country Club Plaza waiting for people to walk by and hopefully throw some change into his cup. His schedule was pretty consistent. He would first sit there from noon to four and then returned from seven to ten. For a homeless person, a chance to get a real job is slim to none. Somehow, he found peace of mind and stability and peace of mind through begging.
When he reflects back to his time spent on the streets and says, “At the very worst, I’m going to eat today, and I’m going to buy whatever I want to eat. And that was fine with me.” These days, Harris can make ends meet thanks to his job as a sound engineer.
On occasion, Billy Ray makes time to go visit the Plaza. This time, however, he isn’t there to beg for change. Instead, he can finally afford to go there and shop. With that said, he hasn’t forgotten that he was once one of the many homeless people who are still there, begging for change.
Of course, whenever he can, Billy Ray spares some change to help. He says, “I still drive through the Plaza and basically see ‘em. I actually stop and give them money now, believe it or not!” This inspiring story taught me that, if I’m ever faced with a tough decision, make the right choice. Being a good person can change your life for the better.