The 55-year-old Billy Ray Harris was a homeless person in 2013. In Kansas City, he made his home on a corner, where he held out a cup and begged bystanders for spare change. However, his life abruptly changed one day.
Harris was standing where he usually was in February when Sarah Darling passed by and gave him some change. But she also unintentionally dropped in her engagement ring, which she was unaware of. Harris considered selling the ring; he had it valued at $4,000; however, he was ultimately unable to do so, and a few days later, he gave it back to Darling.
“I am not trying to say that I am no saint, but I am no devil either,” he said at the time.
Darling and Bill Krejci established a fund to raise money for Harris to assist him in getting his life back on track as a way of saying thanks to him. We set a goal of $1,000, Darling informed TODAY in March 2013. We organized it because many individuals who had been moved by the story expressed a desire to assist Billy Ray.
They all had no idea how much the fund would raise; in just three months, more than $190,000 had been contributed.
After speaking with a lawyer, Harris was able to place the funds in a trust. Since then, he has been able to purchase a car and even put down a deposit on a home that he is currently renovating.
Not only that, but his family members, who had been searching for him for 16 years and believed he had passed away, were able to locate him after he appeared on television. After their joyful reunion, Harris is attempting to build relationships with them all, including nieces and nephews he was previously unaware of.
"When I think of the past, I think, thank God that it's over," he told TODAY. "I mean, I feel like a human being now."
The people of Kansas City are still thinking of Harris and his noble deed. He continues, "I still see some of the same people, but now they're coming up and shaking my hand and, you know, saying 'hey, good job' instead of coming up and giving me change."
Harris' life has changed drastically since the fateful day that Darling's ring fell into his cup. "This is what they call the American Dream," he claims. "I want to thank everyone who gave me assistance. I want them to understand the impact of their labors, blessings, and goodness.
The couple whose engagement ring he returned are lifelong friends of his as well.
Now that Krejci and Darling have a daughter, they are eager to introduce Harris to her and explain how important a part he played in her parents' lives. Darling says, "I've spoken to other mothers about this." "It provides [other moms] with a really concrete story of really teaching the difference between what's wrong and what's right,"
Harris seems to be lucky not just for the couple, but also for the neighborhood baseball team! Harris has accompanied Krejci and Darling to six Kansas City Royals games.
The overwhelming show of support for Harris, Darling says, "just makes me feel good overall." When this man really deserves it, a lot of people banded together to change his life.