Wallet returned 6 years after being lost becomes message of hope
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A seemingly insignificant gesture that inspires hope and joy is almost never fully appreciated in the moment. In the moment, it just seems like the right thing to do.
“All I did was return a little kid’s wallet,” said David “Stoney” Barrow. “I had no idea it was going to turn out like this. Mind blowing. I’ve got tears in my eyes right now.”
It wasn’t just any wallet. This wallet was lost six years ago.
“It was 2014 and I was staying with my sister in Baker,” Barrow recalls. “I went into Walgreens and I walked out, and something just told me to look down. I found this little camouflage wallet on the ground.”
Inside the wallet was three $1 bills, a $5 and three $1 coins.
“I seen the little baseball picture and I seen that a little kid lost his wallet and the money, and I wasn’t going to spend his money,” he said. “So, I kept it and I thought maybe I’ll find him again one day.”
He tried more than once to find the little boy in the picture. His only clue was the name, Kyler Gafford, written on the back of the picture, along with the year.
“Me and my 2 daughters tried to track them down, but we couldn’t find them,” he said. “Flood came on [in 2016] and I put the wallet up high on a shelf,” he said.
The home was flooded. Little did he know, but the home of the boy in the picture was going through the same tragedy.
“We live in Amite,” said Kristin Gafford. “Our house flooded in 2016 and we had to rebuild everything.”
Roughly an hour’s drive from where the wallet was found. Kristin says she didn’t remember when the wallet was lost.
“I remember going to Baton Rouge for my cousin’s wedding,” she said. “And I remember stopping at Walgreens that day. But I don’t know if that’s when it happened.”
Losing the wallet has become a rather insignificant moment. The months after would prove life changing.
“We went out to eat for my birthday [December 26, 2014] and left him [her youngest child Koltyn with my parents,” she said.
At the time, Koltyn was just 2 years old, a toddler, and something in the pool caught his eye.
“Even with all those people there, he just ventured off,” she said.
Koltyn fell in the pool and nearly drowned. He barely survived.
“He is not the same child,” she said. “He’s now a special needs child. He’s non-mobile, he’s non-verbal, but he’s thriving compared to what he was the day we brought him home from the hospital.”
That day is remembered by a front page article in the local newspaper.
“Our town lined the whole road to our house with blue ribbons,” she said. “We had a private police escort the time we got off the interstate. We had a parade of people waiting here when we got home.”
Barrow ended up reading that article six years later after he renewed search to find the owner of the wallet.
“I went to my boss’s wife and asked her to help me find the family,” Barrow said.
“He came in my office and put this little camouflage wallet on my desk and I said, ‘uh oh, what are we doing now,’” Janet Branch said with a laugh.
Barrow told Branch about the wallet. He explained that he tried to find the owner before and came up short. He needed her help to find the child and return it to him.
“I found the dad first,” she said. “I called the place he had listed for his work, but he didn’t work there anymore.”
Next, she found Kristin and contacted the business listed as her employer.
“My co-worker messaged me about a lady who works at Team Honda [Janet] reaching out to her,” Gafford said. “She asked what would be the easiest way to get the wallet back to us and I said I was not going to be back in Baton Rouge any time soon, so just drop it in the mail.”
“Stoney was not having any of that,” Branch said with a laugh.
After six years and after reading the article about this family, there was no way he was going to let this wallet be returned by mail.
“I offered to meet him somewhere, he was very adamant in saying he doesn’t mind coming all that way,” said Gafford.
He started his search at work on Thursday, June 25. The following night, he was walking up to the front door of the Gafford family home in Amite.
“I got him [Kyler] a baseball bat with his name on there and the year he lost his wallet,” Barrow said. “After reading the article about his brother [Kolytn], I thought I couldn’t take him nothing, so I got him a shirt made.
“At the time, I didn’t know [Kyler’s] birthday was the next day,” Barrow added.
He also couldn’t have known that the family was supposed to be on vacation the next day, but the trip had been canceled unexpectedly.
“Four days before we were supposed to leave, the woman who owned the condo we were supposed to be staying at canceled our reservation and will not refund our money,” Gafford said. “This was going to be our first trip to the beach with Koltyn.”
The issue was related to the number of people who were going to be staying in the condo.
“We needed the help,” Gafford said. “Not everybody could come at the same time, so some people were coming out early and others were coming later.”
Admitting to that is what Gafford says caused the problem with the owner of the condo.
“After this happened [with the wallet] my husband said this is your blessing for being honest,” she said. “It might not be a week-long vacation on the beach, but look at the joy you’ve gotten from this.”
“I can’t believe how much this post has just went crazy,” she said. “I’ve never had anything like that go viral like that.”
The message of hope is what seems to be causing a stir of emotions for everyone involved.
“I can’t believe it caught on like this, that people are reacting like this,” said Barrow. “[After seeing the post] I just started crying and crying and crying.”
He wasn’t in it for the praise.
“There have been a lot of people who knew him and shared that this is something I expected him to do,” said Gafford.
“It’s amazing! He’s just a good person,” said Branch. “He’s just a good guy.”
To Barrow, the look on Kyler’s face was all he wanted.
“To put a smile on a kid’s face, that’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. “Maybe it might change some people what I did. You never know what impact it will have. I didn’t think it would be this big.”
Sometimes it’s the small things that matter the most.
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