Family reunited with 25-year-old VHS tape showing baby's first steps

After watching the video, Jim McKay was determined to find the family.
By Callie Patteson

Over a year after buying a VHS from a Goodwill in Texas, an Austin filmmaker discovered it held a precious home video of a baby boy's first steps in 1994.

Jim McKay was determined to find the family and somehow return the clip to them.

It ultimately led to a special meeting on TODAY Wednesday, when the boy in the video, now a 26-year-old educator from Austin named TyRe Alexander, got to say thanks to McKay in person for returning a cherished family memory.

"I haven't seen me, my dad and brother in a room for a long time,'' Alexander said on TODAY about the video. "To see that and to see all that love and everything, that took me back to a place I could never go without having that tape."

"I think it's a really touching story," McKay added. "The odds of it happening and working out as well as it did are just incredible. It's sweet, it's heartwarming, it's a reunion and bringing back something that was lost under such interesting circumstances."

McKay began his quest to find the family in the video when he uploaded a portion of it to Facebook on Jan. 4, asking the public to share it where they could.

"I'm a dad myself and it just made my heart just swell," McKay told TODAY Parents. "It was really emotional actually seeing that. I recognized it for what it was. People didn't film everything like they do now, it was a big moment. They set up that camera, hoping they would catch that and they did."

Just over 24 hours after his Facebook post, the VHS clip went viral on social media and reached local TV stations. Watching the news Sunday night, Alexander's mother recognized her son.

"My mom called me while I was out saying, 'Hey you're on the news right now, you're walking as a baby!" Alexander told TODAY Parents.

Seeing the video immediately brought back memories for his mother.

Jim McKay @jmk.pictures

"Her first reaction was 'I know that house, I know that living room,' because she's the one who set the camera up,'' Alexander said Wednesday. "She was like, 'Those are my cubs,' because she's mama bear. She instantly called me, that was her first instinct to call me and give me that memory."

After the call, Alexander got to watch the small clip of himself at 10 months old taking his first steps. He quickly reached out to McKay over Instagram, and the two have made plans to digitize the home video.

In the video, Alexander walks toward his dad on the floor as his older brother Symari, who traveled with him to New York, cheers him on.

"There's a point in there that really warmed my heart because he's like clapping so hard,'' Alexander said. "That's my big brother."

Twenty-five years later, Symari now has a daughter.

"We flood the group chat with pictures of her constantly," Alexander told TODAY Parents. "So to have that moment from back in the past like that, it's treasure. Someone found gold for me. I was blessed to even see something like that."

Alexander now looks to continue his work as an educator and coach and pay it forward after McKay's kind gesture to him.

"I just want to be a blessing as much as I can,'' Alexander said. "Just like (McKay) did for me, that's what my life goal is. My purpose in life is to help people and to make people smile.

"That's the ironic thing about this is that somebody came and did that for me and just blessed me and made me smile."