Radio Sandwell Miscellanea

Homeless man's astonishment after $150,000 pledge

2013-02-27 18:41:26

Billy Ray Harris

A homeless man has become the centre of a global fundraising campaign - after returning a diamond engagement ring to a bride-to-be who dropped it in his coffee cup.

Sarah Darling lost her ring on the streets of Kansas City when she it unknowingly dropped it into a cup belonging to Billy Ray Harris.

She desperately dashed back to the scene the next day after realising it was missing, and was overjoyed when Harris returned the valuable jewellery straight back to her.

The feel-good story has touched so many people that an online fundraising page for homeless Harris has since pulled $150,000 in less than a fortnight.

The act of selflessness by Harris, who sleeps under a bridge and spends his days in a square in Kansas City, has since been described as a 'miracle' by Ms Darling's fiance, Bill Krejci.

Mr Krejci, who set up the online donations page himself, said the act of generosity 'makes you realise that there are good people out there'.

The donations, which on Tuesday afternoon stood at $151,000, are currently enough for Harris to get himself off the streets and buy a three-bedroom house in Kansas City.

Billy Ray Harris

Harris told a local television station he 'had that little devil on my shoulder saying, "Keep the money",' but he decided against pawning the ring for cash.

When a distraught Ms Darling returned to the square hoping to retrieve the ring, she told Harris: "I don't know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that's very precious."

Harris asked her, "Was it a ring?", before adding, "Yeah I have it, I kept it for you," and pulling it from a pocket.

Ms Darling and her fiance set up the fundraising page to thank Harris for returning the ring, hoping it would pull in $1,000.

Instead, over 6,000 pledges have flooded in from Asia, Europe and America, all wishing Harris well for his good deed.

Billy Ray Harris

One donor left a message on the page saying: "An amazing man who deserves amazing things.. I hope things go well for you :) You are a true inspiration around the world!!"

Another pledge, from Pat Gowen, read: "Thank you Mr. Harris for your honesty. You have restored my faith in people. God Bless you."

Harris himself said he didn't think he deserves all the attention he has been getting.

He told local television station KCTV: "What I actually feel is, "What is the world coming to when a person returns something that dosn't belong to him and all this happens?".'

He added: "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."

Harris said he may attempt to find somewhere to live in Texas, where he has family, but is currently staying with a friend.

In a statement on the Give Forward online page, Bill Krejci said after meeting Harris: "We talked about what he plans to do.

"He has a very solid plan and a very solid way of making it happen."


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