Donations Approach 180K For Homeless Man Who Returned Engagement Ring

Posted By Urban News Hour | March 6, 2013

A homeless man’s sterling character has led him to a pot of gold.

Billy Ray Harris, who weeks ago was sleeping on the streets in Kansas City, Mo., is set to receive nearly $180,000 from donors as a reward for returning a diamond engagement ring to a woman who mistakenly dropped it in his change cup.

More than 7,700 people have donated to the Give Forward campaign started by Bill Krejci and his wife, Sarah Darling, who thought her treasured ring was lost forever when she dropped it in Harris’ cup on Feb. 8.

Harris held onto the ring and returned it to Darling the next day. The couple gave him all the money they had on them — around 50 bucks — and launched the online campaign a few days later, with the goal of raising $1,000.

On Wednesday morning, the campaign had raised $177, 353. It ends on May 15.

Harris told NBC’s the publicity surrounding the campaign is helping him get back on his feet.

He’s been working as a roadie for a local jazz band — he did sound for local acts before falling on hard times — and crashing in a band member’s basement while making strides toward opening a bank account to collect the funds.

And while the cash windfall will be life-changing, Harris said he’s most thankful that the experience has put him back in touch with his family.

His sister Robin, who lives in Texas, tracked him down after Harris’ story made national news, reported.

“It felt great,” Harris told “I hadn’t talked to her in so many years. I was totally excited and surprised.”

“I totally lost contact with [my family] back in the 90’s…I was kind of down in the dumps, and on the verge of giving up,” he said.

Harris said he plans to use some of the money to buy an apartment and to fly back to Texas to see his family.

“We’re thinking about having a family reunion in July, so definitely then, but I intend to be there before that,” Harris said.



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