As tears filled his eyes Saturday afternoon, 7-year-old Bryan Jeffery was able to choke out the words “thank you” while detective Tim Gray kneeled before him with a birthday gift the boy never expected.
It was a heart-felt gesture that speaks a lot to the detective’s character.
The Conway boy’s bicycle was parked in front of the Walmart on Skyline Drive when it was stolen on July 14. The investigation was handed over to Gray, and when the detective saw the boy’s birthday was the following week, he couldn’t keep himself from going beyond the call of duty and “correcting a wrong.”
Jeffery turned 7 years old on July 23. Gray worked with the boy’s mother to organize a birthday bash and give the boy a new bike.
Gray said it didn’t settle right with him that the young boy’s bicycle was taken just before his birthday. He’s right, it wasn’t OK.
It speaks volumes of detective Gray, the Conway Police Department and the community that stepped up to work together to bring this 7-year-old boy a new bicycle. Many hands played a role in turning a devastating moment for this boy into a moment of pure joy that he likely will never forget.
When little Bryan woke up Saturday morning, he didn’t realize detective Gray, his mother and other family members had organized a surprise parade for him. The parade was set to begin at 2 p.m. And though detective Gray’s wife, Leigh Anne, was waiting for him and Bryan’s family in front of the old Franke’s Cafeteria, her husband was ultimately paged out to another call. That didn’t stop Tim.
He was able to make it over in time from his other call to join the parade and help celebrate Bryan’s birthday. The detective had a very busy day that day. Not only did he have being at Bryan’s birthday on his list of things to do and the unexpected page-out, but he was also helping out with physical agility test for those taking part in CPD’s entry level exam on Saturday.
And though he had a full plate, the detective never let Bryan feel he also had other duties to tend to that day. The time detective Gray spend at Bryan’s surprise birthday he dedicated to that boy and helped the 7-year-old boy feel like he was the most important person in that detective’s eyes that day. It was absolutely beautiful.
Soon after the detective revealed the bike (that was picked out and purchased by Conway resident Carla Evans), the two posed for a few photos before heading over to take a look at the boy’s birthday cake, which was donated by Julie’s Sweet Shoppe.
The party was Batman themed. If you asked me, Gray and the community members who stepped up to make Bryan’s birthday special are the true superheroes of this story.
It was clear Bryan was absolutely appreciative and awestruck by the surprise party and new bike.
In a time where police officers are ridiculed and protested against, it’s imperative that stories such as the narrative detective Gray created are told. Gray never went above and beyond his call of duty because he wanted to be in the spotlight. He genuinely felt sorry for the boy who had his bicycle taken from just before his birthday. The bicycle was one of the boy’s Christmas gifts.
Knowing we have officers who would take time out of their day to make one young boy’s day extra special is extremely encouraging and inspiring. If there was one message we were able to send out to tell the story of our local law enforcement, this would be the message I’d be proud (and am proud) to share.
Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at email@example.com.