For Brandon Potter and his wife, Debbie, a recent day at the beach nearly turned into a nightmare.
While enjoying the sunshine at Tobay Beach in Long Island, New York, Debbie Potter took her wedding ring off to put sunscreen on their two kids. But later, as the family was leaving for the day, they realized she never put the ring back on. And no one knew where it was.
Brandon sprinted back to their spot in the sand, some 50 yards from the crashing waves, and searched frantically. But a storm was rolling in and some nearby police officers, after helping with the search for a few minutes, told them unfortunately they'd have to leave. The beach was being evacuated.
"We both were heartbroken," Brandon said. "The ring was sentimental to us. It was made for my wife. It was a one of a kind ring."
Determined not to give up, Brandon put out a call on Facebook, hoping someone — anyone — would help.
"I go home and I make this post on Facebook on all of these pages I belong to, just hoping that someone would have the heart to give [the ring] back to us if they found it," he said.
But, miraculously, he got something even better.
A complete stranger named Mike Jandris replied, matter-of-factly, that he would be at the beach in 35 minutes. With his metal detector.
Relieved, Brandon hopped in the car, stopped by an ATM (he had promised a reward to anyone who found the ring), and met Jandris at the beach.
"I was on edge," Brandon said. "I was about 50/50 if he would find it."
Within five minutes, the two men found the missing wedding ring.
"I jumped up and gave him a hug. It meant so much to me that this guy was willing to do this," Brandon said.
Brandon tried to give the kind stranger some money, but Jandris wasn't interested. All he wanted were a few pictures to remember the experience.
"This is what Mike does for fun," Brandon said. "He goes and looks for things all the time for people."
Brandon says that in circles of folks who scour the beach for lost items, finding high-value jewelry like custom-made wedding rings is considered a badge of honor. Some say finders keepers, but good guys like Jandris just enjoy helping folks out.
"Now Mike has a good story to tell," Brandon said.
Brandon says that he now considers Jandris a true friend. For life.
Brandon put up another Facebook post later thanking Mr. Jandris for his incredible generosity. The message quickly went viral.
And amid the swirl of support, comments, shares, and media coverage, Brandon says he and Jandris have kept in touch and even met up a few times.
They're both excited to see so many people responding to their story.
"With everything bad going on, people need to see stories like this," Brandon said.
He's absolutely right.