Billy Ray Harris sat on a plastic crate on the sidewalk of Kansas City, Missouri, holding out a cup for passerby’s to put their change in. It was a typical day for Harris, who was homeless and graciously relied on the kindness of strangers to help him pay for a meal each day. A woman named Sarah Darling walked up to Harris when she saw him holding the cup.
Knowing there was loose change in her purse, she took out her phone, wallet, and keys before dumping the purse upside down, letting the coins fall into Harris’ cup. But what she failed to notice was that something very valuable fell from her purse into the cup, too. What happened next is truly inspiring.
She Gave Him All Of The Change That She Had
Sarah Darling lived a comfortable life in Kansas City. When she saw Billy Ray Harris on the sidewalk holding out a cup for people to place their change into, she immediately decided to contribute any of the change that she had floating around in her purse.
Instead of digging out the coins with her hand, she turned her purse upside down and let the change fall into the cup.
Harris Was A Local Of The Area
Harris had lived in Kansas City for a long time, and residents often saw him downtown. Routinely, he would politely sit on the sidewalk with his possessions and a cup for donations.
He found passersby to be generous with their change, but it was never enough to get him back on his feet.
It Was His Daily Routine
Not having a warm bed to lay in at night, once the sun came up, Harris routinely made his way downtown to take a seat on the sidewalk.
No matter how cold it was, Harris would be there, cup in hand, hoping to collect enough change for a hot meal.
He Held Onto Hope, But Life Was Hard
A kind-hearted man, Harris always held onto hope that his life would improve. But day after day, he found himself making his way to the sidewalk with his cup.
After losing his home, it became increasingly difficult to find a way to put a roof over his head. So he did the only thing he could think of, and took life day by day.
Sarah Darling Had Just Become Engaged
It was a cold day in February as Sarah Darling walked through the streets of Kansas City but inside, Darling was beaming with joy. She had just become engaged to her fiancé Bill Krejci and looked forward to spending the rest of her life with her true love.
Krejci had presented Darling with a beautiful ring and the two began planning their wedding.
Her Cup Felt Full, So She Wanted To Help
Feeling lucky and in love, Darling didn’t hesitate to offer her change to a man she saw in need sitting on the sidewalk. While Darling felt comfortable and secure in her life in Kansas City, it was clear that Harris had fallen on hard times.
Darling walked over to the man and dumped the coins from her purse into his plastic cup. But what she didn’t realize was that her engagement ring had fallen in too.
The Ring Wasn’t On Her Finger
Darling loved wearing her new engagement and sharing the news with friends and colleagues. But on that particular day, her ring finger felt swollen and inflamed. Not wanting the ring to get stuck on her finger, she took it off and stuck it in her purse.
Of course, when she dumped the change into Harris’ cup, the ring fell in too.
Neither Of Them Noticed The Ring In The Cup
Harris politely thanked Darling for her donation and both parties went on with their day without noticing that the diamond ring had fallen into the cup too. Harris continued sitting on the sidewalk for several hours, collecting more change from the locals that passed.
It wasn’t until much later, when he collected his belongings and moved on, that much to his surprise, he noticed the diamond ring mixed in with the coins in the cup.
Harris Was Stunned When He Saw The Ring
When he decided to move on, Harris poured the cup of change into his hand. That’s when the ring fell into his palm, much to his surprise.
Harris told NBC, “When I finally decided to leave, I got on my bike and dumped the change into my hand– and there was the ring.”
Harris Didn’t Think It Was Real
You might think that Harris would be thanking his lucky stars after finding the diamond ring in his cup, but that wasn’t the case.
Thinking that it’s highly unlikely that anyone would donate a diamond ring worth thousands of dollars, and without even saying anything, Harris assumed that the jewelry was fake.
If The Ring Was Real, He Had A Very Lucky Day
Although he initially doubted that the authenticity of the ring, Harris held onto it. He told KCTV, “The ring was so big I knew if it was real, it had to be expensive.”
In order to find out what the diamond ring was actually worth, Harris brought it to a nearby pawn shop.
He Was Amazed At What It Was Worth
Once an expert at the pawnshop valued the diamond ring, Harris was stunned. It was real!
Harris told NBC that the ring “Was really worth some money. Worth enough that [the appraiser] was ready to give me four grand right there on the spot.” For someone who was used to living on loose change, this was an incredible discovery.
What To Do?
Now that Harris knew that the diamond ring was real and he could walk away with $4,000, he had a big decision on his hands. Still stunned at the value of the ring that had been dropped into his cup, Harris decided to take time to think about what his next move would be.
He left the pawnshop with the diamond ring.
Harris didn’t have any money in the bank. Nor did he have a car or even a roof over his head. He could have taken the cash and put it towards rent. But his intuition told him not to.
He told NBC, “My grandfather was a reverend. He raised [me] from the time I was six months old and thank the good Lord. It’s a blessing but I do still have some character.”
It Wasn’t Until A Day Later Darling Noticed The Missing Ring
While Harris had the ring valued at a pawn shop and decided to hold onto it, Darling finally noticed that the ring had gone missing. It wasn’t until the next day that she noticed it was no longer in her purse.
“It was horrible. It was such a feeling of loss. It meant so much to me beyond just the financial value,” she told NBC.
She Realized What Had Probably Happened
Once she realized that the ring was no longer in her purse, Darling retraced her steps in her head and remembered that she had dumped the contents of her purse into Harris’ cup.
She eagerly went back to the place where she had seen him. But he wasn’t there. The day after, she went back again. And there he was, sitting on the sidewalk alongside his bike, holding his cup.
“I Kept It For You”
Darling was grateful to see Harris once again, but would he still have her ring? Nervous to find out the answer, she approached him. She recalled the conversation to KCTV, “I asked him, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that’s very precious to me.”
She continued, “And he says, ‘Was it a ring? yeah, I have it, I kept it for you.” He pulled it out of his pocket.
He Gladly Gave It Back
Although he could have cashed in the ring and never returned to the same spot on the sidewalk, that wasn’t Harris’ character. Without hesitation, he handed over the diamond ring to Darling.
Incredibly relieved, Darling held the ring in her hand before placing it back on her finger. Although it had only been a couple of days, she knew there was a chance that her beloved engagement ring would be gone forever.
Darling Told Her Fiance What Happened
When she got home with her engagement ring once again on her finger, Darling told Krejci everything that happened. She explained how kind Harris had been and gladly handed over the ring that he could have cashed in.
That’s when the couple decided to return the favor. The couple created an account for Harris on a website called Give Forward, where people could donate money to those in need. They Darling told Today, “We set a goal for $1,000. We set it up because a lot of people who had been touched by the story expressed interest in helping Billy Ray.”
More Than A Cup Of Change
Once the account was set-up on Give Forward alongside the story of how Harris selflessly returned the ring, people were eager to help. Donations quickly started coming in, one after another.
Not only that, but the people who donated money to Harris shared incredible messages of how inspired they were by his good deed.
Donations Came In From Around The World
It wasn’t just residents of Kansas City who were touched by Harris’ actions and Darling’s willingness to help him in return. Donations poured in from around the world.
One couple from the UK shared, “Billy, your sweet actions, despite being in dire straits yourself, prove that there is humility in the world.”
People Gave Here and There, And It Added Up
$20 here, $10 there, the donations and sweet messages kept coming in. As it turned out, the story was relatable to a lot of people.
One person who made a donation recalled their mother’s ring being stolen from their house, and how awful it made them feel. They were happy that this story had a better ending, and gladly pitched in $10 to the kind soul who returned the ring in this case.
They Surpassed The Goal And Reached Over $190,000
To say that Darling and Krejci surpassed their goal of raising $1,000 for Harris would be a massive understatement… the account garnered more than $190,000 in donations!
While Harris could have had $4,000 in his pocket the day that he was mistakenly given the diamond ring, he would end up walking away with so much more, all because of his kind spirit.
Harris and Darling Became Friends
The chance meeting on the sidewalk in Kansas City that morning turned into so much more for both Darling and Harris. While helping him retrieve the donations from the Give Forward account, Darling says they formed a friendship.
She told the donation site, “We talked about a lot of things related to my family’s ring and the many donations. We talked about how insanely positive all of this has been.”
$190,000 Raised In Three Months
In just three months, Harris’ account had tipped over the $190,000 mark. Incredible! To make sure that he was able to save and spend the money wisely, he found a financial advisor to help him put the money into a trust account.
Once he knew the majority of the money was in a safe place, Harris felt comfortable using some of it to better his life.
He Bought A Car And A Home
Harris used some of the money that was donated to him to buy a vehicle, which was life-changing on its own. Then, he purchased his own home!
No longer homeless, Harris now has a roof over his head that he owns himself. He also says that he’ll be renovating the home himself. But that’s not even the best part.
His Family Had Been Searching For Him, And Finally Found Him
While Harris had been living on the streets and sleeping under a bridge for over a decade, his family had been trying to locate him. Not knowing where to look or how to get in contact with him, they worried they’d never see Harris again.
But after the incredible story of returning the ring and raising money to improve his life, Harris’ family finally found out how to get in touch with him.
Homelessness Is Now Behind Him
Harris expressed how incredibly thankful he was to be given a fresh start in life. After more than ten years of struggling day to day, Harris now has a home, a car, and has been reunited with his relatives.
He told Today, When I think of the past, I think, ‘Thank God that it’s over.’ I mean, I feel human now.”
He Says He’s Living The American Dream
Despite all of the struggles that he had faced, Harris remains positive and optimistic about the future. He told Today, “This is what they call the American Dream.”
He continued, “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.”
Everything Turned Out For The Better
Darling, Krejci and Harris all appeared on the Today show to recall the incredible story.
Darling said, “Overall, it just makes me feel good. A lot of people came together to change this person’s life, when he’s someone who really deserves that.” It’s truly a story that none of them will ever forget.