BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With everything going on lately between law enforcement and folks on the street, there is a very, very bright spot on both sides of the badge and that bright spot is right here in Baton Rouge.
A few weeks ago, Corporal Jerad Daniel, a motorcycle officer with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, was entering Interstate 10 at Essen when the shift lever on his bike came off. He couldn't shift gears.
So Cpl. Daniel pulled off to the side of the interstate, parked his bike and began roaming the grassy area looking for the lever. When all of a sudden a car pulled up behind him.
A woman got out and ask if he was okay and did he need some help. He assured her he was okay and tried desperately to coax her back into her car for safety reasons.
"Look I'm not going anywhere until we either find what you're looking for or I know you have gotten home safely," the woman said.
The woman was just a concerned citizen named Jeary Rodrigue.
Cpl. Daniel was able to shift gears safely enough to return home. So after a brief conversation the two exchanged phone numbers and pulled off, Ms. Jeary in close pursuit.
They parted ways when Ms. Jeary reached her exit, and Cpl. Daniel made good on his promise, calling Ms. Jeary once he was safely home. But it didn't end there.
Jerad told his wife Reagan the incredible story. He told her how he and Ms. Jeary had chatted during the few minutes they were together on I-10 at Essen and how Ms. Jeary said she'd love to someday meet his wife and young son Benton.
Reagan was amazed and relieved someone was actually watching out for her 'police officer' husband. Reagan did some digging and developed a Facebook friendship with Ms. Jeary.
That gave Reagan an idea. She contacted WAFB's Hand It On program and told us the story.
Reagan helped set up a secret meeting at Coffee Call on College Drive and invited Ms. Jeary for coffee and beignets so the two could meet. She didn't tell Ms. Jeary that she had also arranged for our Hand It On camera to be there secretly recording the exchange, nor did she divulge to Ms. Jeary that her husband Jerad was going to be there also and would present her with a cash gift of $300.
The Daniel family met us at Coffee Call well in advance of Ms. Jeary. With help from Coffee Call's terrific staff, we agreed where the family would sit, what chair Ms. Jeary would occupy, and where our hidden camera would be positioned to film the meeting.
Ms. Jeary arrived right on time. Once coffee and beignets were served, Jerad asked Ms. Jeary how she was doing. Without complaining, in a simple 'matter of fact' tone, Ms. Jeary began explaining how she was currently in a very tight spot financially. She had car problems, her house note was overdue, she had living expenses, and didn't know how she was going to "get out of it" this time.
But Ms. Jeary, an extremely spiritual person, told Jerad and Reagan that she was going to be fine because she had "turned it all over to God" since this was too big a burden for her to bare. So humble.
Wow. Could this Hand It On recipient be more deserving?
"Maybe He's been watching out for you", Jerad explained, while exposing three crisp, new $100 bills. "We got with the folks from WAFB and their Hand It On, and we wanted to give you a little something. Since you helped me out that day, we wanted to help you out."
Ms. Jeary was speechless through a waterfall of tears. This friendship is a bond that will never be broken.
Fate? A higher power? The Power of Prayer? I've always thought Hand It On was about ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in the community. But somehow those words don't quite seem powerful enough this time.
The Power of Prayer? Are you kidding? Thank you, God, for your endless blessings like Ms. Jeary Rodrigue and Corporal Jerad Daniel; two very bright candle lights of hope in what, at times, seems like a hopeless world. Amen.
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@WAFB.com.