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Homeless man returns ring, receives new life for his integrity

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 9:30 a.m. MDT

Sarah Darling displays the diamond ring she accidentally dropped into Billy Ray Harris' donation cup. He held onto the ring to give it back to her. (Screenshot Today.com) Sarah Darling displays the diamond ring she accidentally dropped into Billy Ray Harris' donation cup. He held onto the ring to give it back to her. (Screenshot Today.com)

In February, Billy Ray Harris was homeless in Kansas City, Mo. But one act of kindness led to a new life for him, with a job, car and house more than six months later.

It started when Sarah Darling dropped some change into the cup Harris used to collect donations but accidentally dropped her engagement ring in as well. After realizing her mistake the next day, Darling began looking for Harris, hoping he still had her ring. Forty-eight hours later, Darling saw Harris at his usual place.

"I asked him … 'I don't know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that's very precious to me,' and he says, 'Was it a ring? Yeah, I have it, I kept it for you,’ ” Darling said in an interview with CNN.

Darling and her husband, Bill Krejci, were touched by Harris’ integrity. Harris later said he had taken the ring to a jeweler who priced it at $4,000, but he decided against selling it. Krejci set up a donation page for Harris on Give Forward.com, with the intent to raise at least $1,000 for him. But when the fundraiser ended on April 26, it had generated more than $190,000 for Harris.

Billy Ray Harris stands with Bill Krejci. (Screenshot Today.com) Billy Ray Harris stands with Bill Krejci. (Screenshot Today.com)

Today, Harris has a part-time job, a car and a house to live in. He also hopes to start his own business.

“This is what they call the American Dream,” Harris said in an interview with Today.com. “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.”

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But the rewards Harris has received are more than monetary. As his story spread, Harris was able to reconnect with his family, who he not had contact with for 16 years. They planned on reuniting at a family reunion this past summer, but Today created a surprise reunion on the show for the Harris family.

Billy Ray Harris stands next to his new car. (Screenshot Today.com) Billy Ray Harris stands next to his new car. (Screenshot Today.com)

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Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact her at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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