Bars and shady characters seem to go hand in hand, but for barkeep Jimmy Gilleece, his sports bar is a place where people are supposed to feel safe. Since Jimmy’s at Red Dog’s in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina is named after him, there’s a certain reputation that he has to uphold.
So, when a female customer told Jimmy that her wallet had gone missing, he did everything possible to find out what happened. The woman was frantic not because of the cash, but because her wedding ring was tucked inside!
After scouring through hours of security footage for clues, Jimmy finally spotted the wallet on a bench just outside the bar. However, it didn’t stay put for long – he could see a teenage boy approach and take off with it. What started out as a mission to find a missing wallet suddenly took a turn when Jimmy realized who the kid actually was.
After Jimmy tracked down the teen, he got him to confess to taking the cash and tossing the wallet into the ocean. However, what seemed like a sad ending for the woman and her precious ring actually wasn’t. There was still hope!
Jimmy is dedicated beyond belief to his patrons, and he actually hired search and rescue divers to find the wallet. He told CBS News:
“After I invested all that time, I’m gonna find the ring. So I hired divers to come out the next day.”
The cost of the divers was most likely not cheap, but the value of having a stranger turn into a loyal customer meant so much more to Jimmy. After the woman was reunited with a very soggy wallet and an irreplaceable ring, everyone was supposed to be happy.
Jimmy certainly wasn’t. Although the woman found what she was looking for, there were still some loose threads to this story that made for a very messy ending. A thief was still roaming around out there, and he knew he couldn’t let it go.
That’s when Jimmy made a dark discovery about the wallet criminal. 17-year-old Rivers Prather was actually estranged from his mother and homeless when he stumbled upon the wallet. The poor kid was just trying to survive for one more day! In fact, what he was going through is hard to imagine.
“He was living in the woods, and this is when it was 30 degrees outside, and he hadn’t eaten in two days. I could tell he wasn’t a criminal. He was just somebody who needed a little help.”
Instead of turning the boy over to the police, Jimmy actually helped him turn over a new leaf. The barkeep made Rivers a part of his family. He invited the teen to stay at his house with his fiance and kids. He now has two jobs, and thanks to Jimmy, he also has a bright future ahead. Rivers said told CBS News:
“I couldn’t have been luckier. Most other people would have just gave the footage to police, and he chose to help me. He’s made me part of his family. I say thank you to him every day. I’d do anything for him.”
Not only did Jimmy go above and beyond to retrieve a wedding ring for a stranger, but he also took it upon himself to be a father figure to a desperate kid who needed something that couldn’t be found in a wallet – compassion. In the end, Jimmy did what most people wouldn’t have done – he became the best problem solver of all and changed people’s lives.
Watch the video below to find out more about this heartwarming story.