Wednesday, February 27 2013 4:10 PM EST2013-02-27 21:10:56 GMT
A woman trying to help out a homeless man on The Plaza ended up giving away a lot more than a little change. She accidentally gave him her engagement ring, but the twist to the story is what the man didMore >
A woman trying to help out a homeless man on The Plaza ended up giving away a lot more than a little change. She accidentally gave him her engagement ring, but the twist to the story is what the man did with it.More >
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
The homeless man who gained international attention for his good deed is now looking toward the future and seeing how his act is teaching others.
And generous donors have poured more than $175,000 in a trust fund to benefit Billy Ray Harris. But he hasn't received the money yet so he's still at his usual panhandling spot on the Country Club Plaza.
On Feb. 8, KCTV5 reported how Sarah Darling had given her spare change to Harris after she saw him during a visit to the Plaza. While giving him money, she accidentally dumped her engagement ring into his tin can.
When she noticed the next day that she had her wedding ring but not her engagement ring, she panicked. She rushed to the Plaza, but Harris was not there. She returned the next day and found him.
When she asked, he returned the ring to her.
Twenty days ago, the husband of the woman who got her ring back set up a fund for Harris on the website Giveforward.com.
With 70 days left, it's up to $178,000. Details are still being worked out on giving the money to Harris. Until then, you can find him at his usual spot in front of the Cinemark movie theater on the Plaza.
"I've got to survive until then," he said.
But what the series of stories about his good deed has given him is more valuable than money - they've given him respect.
"People are actually beginning to see and hear that I'm not as stupid or dumb as they thought and that makes me feel good," he said. "Now they look at me with a little more respect."
Donations on the website have ranged from $5 to $1,000 from around the globe, each with enthusiastic words of support.
But a windfall after a life like Harris' can be problematic.
"With a lot of changes comes a lot of challenges, but if you've got someone to walk that journey with you, it's a lot easier," said Gail Byers with Community LINC. "It's scary if he does not have someone who is guiding him."
Byers is a counselor at Community LINC, a charity that gives homeless people apartments and guidance, equipping them for a transition.
"When you have been in the dark for so long and something like this happens, it's like a light bulb came on," she said. "It's like, ‘I am worthy. I can give to somebody else.'"
But Byers is cautiously optimistic about Harris, in part because of another man.
"There's no doubt in my mind this is just the beginning of the goodness," Bill Krejci said.
Krejci is not just the fund sponsor, but is part of Harris' support team.
"We knew he'd need an ID, so yesterday we went down to the DMV to get him an ID," he said.
Krejci said he's helping with the basics but is giving Harris the freedom he so values.
A couple Harris does some work for offered him a basement apartment when the snow storm arrived.
"You cannot believe how good it feels to me right now to be able to stick my own key in the door and open the door and go in and lock it when I leave," Harris said. "That is a great feeling. And a lot of people take that for granted."
And the attention has brought Harris something else - he now has offers for speaking engagements and possibly full-time work as a speaker, which is not far off from his granddad's job as a preacher.
"Everybody always says, ‘God has a plan for you.' I've been trying to figure that out. What's the plan? I was pretty sure it wasn't to be a preacher. But evidently, you don't have to be a preacher to get the point across, so I'm thinking this whole thing is bigger than me. It's not about me. It's not about the money. It's about the good Lord using me as a vessel. He's like, ‘Here, I want you to spread this message because a lot of people need their eyes opened about how we perceive each other,'" Harris said. "It's more or less a natural fit because I used to stand up in church when I was 9 years old and give sermons. I stood on a step stool behind the pulpit and gave sermons."
A friend has offered up the services of a financial planner who gives his cut to charity, and a lawyer has offered to set up a trust pro-bono.
"One of the nice things about it being a 90-day campaign is that there's all this time to really let things fall into place, think things through," Harris said.
He is still considering his options and not counting his chickens before they're hatched.
Although he does imagine spending the money some day and how weird that might be.
"I'll probably be standing around here one day going to shop at Urban Outfitters or something and somebody will walk up and hand me a dollar," he said with a laugh. "They're so used to seeing me out here doing this."
While he plans to stay in Kansas City, he said he may visit family in Texas.
"Get a car, go down to Texas and get my sister. She has a little thrift store she's running. It's too small. I'd get her a bigger building," he said.
As of Thursday, there are 70 days left to donate to the GiveForward campaign to help Harris. Go to giveforward.com/billyray to contribute.
Click here to read a blog from a man who knows Harris about what he has learned from Harris' selfless act.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:12 PM EDT2013-05-25 18:12:27 GMT
ROCKVIEW, MO (CNN/AP) - Federal investigators are trying to determine how two freight trains collided in southeast Missouri early Saturday morning, injuring seven people. Authorities say the two trainsMore >
Two trains collided in Missouri Saturday morning, causing an overpass to collapse and injuring seven. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 9:01 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:01:17 GMT
Strong feelings are funning high one day after the Boy Scouts of America reversed its policy on gay scouts. The decision upset one Kansas City man so much that he decided to make a very personal protest.More >
Strong feelings are running high one day after the Boy Scouts of America reversed its policy on gay scouts. The decision upset one Kansas City man so much that he decided to make a very personal protest.More >
Saturday, May 25 2013 1:59 PM EDT2013-05-25 17:59:50 GMT
A multiple vehicle collision has closed lanes of eastbound Interstate 70 Saturday afternoon. The wreck happened on the interstate, just past Brooklyn Avenue. Two left lanes are closed. There's no wordMore >
A multiple vehicle crash has closed lanes of eastbound Interstate 70 Saturday afternoon.More >
A New Jersey company that operates 13 TGI Fridays restaurants accused of secretly replacing premium liquor with low-quality booze says it's shocked at the allegations.More >
At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water - and apparently not even clean water at that.More >
Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."More >
The trucker was hauling drilling equipment when his load bumped against the steel framework over an Interstate 5 bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and watched in horror as the span collapsed into the water behind him....More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:31:26 GMT
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.The girl was dancing in the upper-deck stands when she suddenly collapsed.More >
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:08 PM EDT2013-05-24 02:08:55 GMT
A military father came home to Las Vegas after spending a year overseas, and surprised his children with an early return. Major Scott Powell spent almost a year in Afghanistan flying planes in the UnitedMore >
A military father came home to Las Vegas after spending a year overseas, and surprised his children with an early return.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:38 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:38:20 GMT
The federal government warned recently that nearly three out of five tested positive for the bacteria found in feces. With Memorial Day weekend marking the official start of pool season, the Centers forMore >
The federal government warned recently that nearly three out of five tested positive for the bacteria found in feces. There are steps you can take to enjoy a summer day at the pool. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 5:23 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:23:39 GMT
Police are investigating whether a person being shot in the chest is connected to a home invasion robbery.Two men attempted to burst into a home in the 106 block of Greenwood Road when shots were fired.More >
A woman fired shots at three men attempting to break into her home, and one of the suspects was shot in the chest, police said. Her husband described the harrowing ordeal. More >