RIDGETOP, Tenn. (WKRN) – A search for crawdads turned up a class ring for a little girl in Ridgetop.
After nearly a decade, the ring is now back with the family that lost it and it turned out to hold a special place in the family’s heart.
“I had it on this finger right here, I had it on my third finger because that’s where he would wear it,” Zackery Stafford showed News 2.
He was only eight years old when his father Brian died.
“I had yarn and tape around it so it would fit,” he said.
His father a piano player, loved showing off his 1991 class ring from Stewart County High.
“When he and I met I got to wear it and I wore it until our wedding,” Joyce Stafford explained.
The ring was later passed on to Zackery as a token of his father’s love.
“I had the ring on all the time. I slept with it and when it wasn’t on my finger, I would put it under my pillow. It was just one of those comfort things,”
One day after church he lost it.
“I just started throwing rocks into this ditch one day. I picked up this big rock, I remember it was the biggest rock I could find and I just slung it in there and when I slung it, I saw the ring-like slow motion in mid-air and then just fall into the water.”
After numerous search efforts, the family was devastated.
“We pumped out the ditch, we used metal detectors to see if we could find it. We just, we never did find it,” said Joyce.
That day haunted Zackery for years to come.
“It was so traumatizing that I never thought I’d see my daddy’s ring again. Every time I would sleep I would remember, I kept having dreams of it falling in and then I would remember Dad when I’d wake up and I couldn’t stop crying about it.”
The family had given up hope that the ring would be found, but nine years later 10-year-old Mackenzie Stamper was looking for crawdads in the same culvert when something shiny caught her eye.
“I was surprised. I was like, ‘I found a ring!’ I was just trying to find some crawdads or something like that,” smiled Mackenzie.
Members of the First Baptist Church in Ridgetop knew it wasn’t just “any” class ring.
“I thought it was just like a little ring until my church friends started telling me all about it, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh,'” Mackenzie explained.
Sunday at church, she returned the ring to the boy who lost it answering the family’s prayers to God from years ago.
“I feel like they were answered. It took a while, but like they say he’s not always on time,” smiled Zackery.
The ring is now back on Zackery’s finger. He plans to eventually pass it on to his children.