A New York man with a metal detecting hobby recently came to the rescue of a husband desperately searching for his wife’s wedding ring on a popular Long Island beach.
But the discovery also uncovered a new friendship and renewed the grateful couple’s faith in the kindness of strangers.
It started after Debbie and Brandon Potter headed to their favorite beach over the weekend. Debbie slipped off her ring and handed it to her husband before lathering sunscreen on their two young children.
Brandon slipped the ring into the back pocket of his wife’s shorts, and told his wife where he put it with a pat on her bottom. Debbie felt the pat, but didn’t hear the words that went with it.
At the end of the day, as the family headed home, Debbie asked for her ring back. A confused Brandon told her where he had placed it.
“Immediately, I knew it was gone,” Debbie said, recalling how she just minutes earlier had thoroughly shaken out all the sand from their towels and clothes — including the shorts she was wearing.
“I just knew that it was gone before I even checked,” she told TODAY. “At that point it was sheer panic, and my heart dropped into my stomach. I felt sick.”
The family turned the car around and went back to search the beach.
“But no one could find it and so I left completely heartbroken,” she said.
The ring, which is actually a wedding band and an anniversary band soldered together with a third ring in between, was originally designed by Brandon’s father, a jeweler.
“My parents loved (Debbie) from day one, so he had this ring specially made for her,” said Brandon, who was equally heartbroken. “I felt like I failed my wife. It was my fault that the ring was lost.”
Once at home, Brandon sought help online and logged into Facebook.
“I made this Hail Mary of a post on all these different local pages on Long Island, just hoping,” he said.
Dozens of people shared his post and several offered him the use of a metal detector. Brandon ultimately connected with Mike Jandris, whom he spotted through a post Jandris placed seeking the owner of a class ring he had found.
“That right away stuck out to me that this guy is not in it for the money. He just likes finding things,” Brandon said. “My initial thought when I see these people combing the beach is they find things to sell and get the money. He wasn’t one of them.”
Once the two connected, Jandris knew they had to act quickly.
“I said to myself, well I need to get down there immediately because anybody with a metal detector could just come on by and find that and it could be gone forever,” he said. “I didn’t know if the ring was worth $100 or $200,000. But I wanted to get back their wedding ring for them.”
About 40 minutes later, the two met on the beach and began combing the spot where the Potter family had camped out earlier.
They found the ring less than five minutes later.
“We jumped up and I gave Mike a hug. I high-fived him. I was just so happy,” Brandon said. “I almost had tears running down my face. The ring means so much to my wife. She never thought she would have anything like that in her life.”
Brandon tried to give a reward to Jandris, who refused. Rather, he asked for a selfie with Brandon, along with picture of the ring because he wanted to show it to members of a metal detecting club he belongs to.
“We have a little contest every month — the best find of the month and things like that,” Jandris said. “I didn’t want a reward. I didn’t want anything. I just wanted to get a picture with it to bring it back to my club so they could see what I found this month.”
Debbie said both she and her husband believe fate brought Jandris into their lives.
“The guy is completely selfless and saw people in need. He realized that if he had waited to come, the chances are that someone else would have found it, and they probably would have kept it,” Debbie said of the ring. “Out of the kindness of his heart, he realized all these things and came out of his way, when we didn’t even ask him to.
"He just said, 'I’ll be there.' That was just amazing to me, and we’re good friends now. It’s a win-win.”