An Illinois man has been reunited with his missing wedding ring thanks to the efforts of an unemployed woman who searched the streets of Chicago for him.
The story was originally reported by the Chicago Tribune earlier this month.
Chris Bires, 41, who works in the financial industry in Chicago, was walking across the Madison Street Bridge last month to catch a train home when he heard a saxophonist on the sidewalk.
Bires emptied the change from his pocket into the saxophonist’s box and continued home.
It wasn't until much later that he realized that his wedding ring was missing.
He called his gym and looked everywhere but found nothing.
The next morning, he realized what had happened. After his workout he had put the ring –- a platinum band worth more than $1,000 and inscribed with the words “I Love You” –- in the pocket of his pants. It was the same pocket that he'd emptied into the saxophone player’s box.
For a week Bires searched the Madison Street Bridge for the saxophone player, asking everyone he came across if they knew where he might be.
He was having no luck until he met Bonita Franks.
Franks, 61, lost her job in 2010. For the past two years, she has gone to the Madison Street Bridge every day to pass out resumes to the commuters.
“I wanted to be around those who were working, rather than sit at home and look at newspapers. That’s how I ended up on the bridge,” Franks told The Huffington Post.
When Bires explained his situation to Franks, she said that she hadn't seen the saxophone player in a while, but that she would keep an eye out for him.
“Chris [Bires] has the same first name as my son,” Bonita told HuffPost. “Immediately after he told me he had dropped it, I knew I should help him. I do see the saxophone player on occasion.”
Bires, however, went on vacation soon after his encounter with Franks. He became resigned to the fact that he would probably never see his wedding ring again.
But when Bires returned from vacation, he happened to pass Franks on the bridge on his way to work.
“I’ve been looking for you,” she said when he approached her.
Franks unzipped a small gold coin purse and pulled out Bires’ wedding ring.
Bonita had looked for the saxophone player, Ron Shelton, at all his regular spots until she finally found him one day. She asked if he had Bires’ ring. Shelton pulled the ring from under his shirt where he was keeping it on a long chain around his neck.
Franks was in possession of the ring for several weeks while Bires was on vacation –- afraid she wouldn't see him again, or wouldn't recognize him, or that she might lose the ring.
So, she was very happy to see Bires again and finally return the missing ring.
For his part, Bires was touched by the fact that neither Bonita nor Shelton had sold the ring and that Franks had carried it around for weeks waiting to see him again.
“It was important for me to get this story out because two people who are fighting to raise money on the street had the character and integrity to make sure that the ring was returned to me,” Bires told HuffPost.
“I’ve gotten to know [Franks] a little bit and I just want to see her off the streets and back in the workforce. Everyone seems to have a positive take on her. If you look at her resume, she’s done a lot of different things,” Bires said.
This isn’t even the first time that Franks has helped a stranger. She once helped a homeless woman who was wounded and walking to Arkansas.
“She had huge sores on the bottom of her feet. I let her in my home and bathed her and fed her,” Franks told HuffPost.
She has also returned a scarf that a morning commuter dropped and returned an envelope filled with money that she found on the street.
Bires, too, has learned a valuable lesson from his encounter with Franks.
“What you realize is that it humanizes people on the street who you walk past.”