Billy Ray Harris was once a homeless man who spent his days on the streets of Kansas City asking others for their change.
Now, Harris has a part-time job, is over $180,000 richer and most importantly, was reunited with his family on Sunday’s episode of The Today Show.
What caused such a drastic change in luck? It can all be attributed to Harris’ good deed earlier this year when passerby Sarah Darling accidentally dropped her engagement ring, along with change, into Harris’ cup.
“When I finally decided to leave I got on my bike and dumped the change into my hand and there was the ring,” Harris told NBC News. “It was really worth some money. Worth enough that he was ready to give me four grand right there on the spot.”
But instead of cashing in the ring, Harris says he was raised to be an honest man and decided to hold on to the diamond band with hopes of returning it to its owner. The following day, Darling realized the mistake she had made and became overjoyed when she saw Harris had held on to her ring.
“It was such a feeling of loss when it was gone,” Darling told Harris. “I’m so eternally grateful.”
So grateful, in fact, that she and her husband, Bill, set up a fund for donations from supporters interested in helping Harris find a home.
“We set it up because a lot of people who had been touched by this story had expressed interest in helping Billy Ray,” Sarah said. “We had set the goal at $1,000, I was hoping to maybe achieve $4,000 because that was what he was offered on spot for the ring.”
But instead, donations came pouring in and over $183,000 has been raised for Harris thus far. But that wasn’t the only lucky thing that happened to Harris – after his story made national headlines, his younger sister Robin stumbled across his picture and was finally able to locate a brother she hadn’t seen in 16 years.
“We cried on the phone and talked about how happy he was that we found each other because he was worried about me too,” she said.
The family planned a reunion scheduled for this summer but producers of The Today Show decided to bring Harris on set — along with Bill and Sarah – and give him his very own surprise.
The show brought in Harris’ family including his sister Robin and three other siblings to reunite with a brother many thought was no longer alive.
“This is a really big surprise,” Harris said while sitting next to Robin, who fought back tears. “I’m in shock.”
When asked how it felt to finally be reconnected, Robin responded: “It’s great, it means the world.”
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