LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 25, 2014) — Before rushing into surgery at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital at 5:30 a.m., patient Christy Rice handed her prized diamond engagement ring to her father for safe keeping. He pushed the ring onto his pinky finger knuckle, but at some point, it slipped from his hand.
Rice, who plans to be married in November, was devastated when she woke to the news of the ring's disappearance. Her father had frantically backtracked his steps through the hospital and reported the missing ring to administrators. She said it was a hard and emotional day up to that point.
"They were the most stressful hours I've experienced in a while," Rice, who went home from the hospital that day in tears, said.
James Champagne, a floor technician and custodial worker at UK HealthCare, was mopping the floors of the hospital on that day last April and overheard the father in his search. As the parent of a 12-year-old girl, Champagne empathized with this man's desperation to find the precious item.
"I said, 'Let me see if I can find it,'" Champagne said. "I saw that expression on her dad's face."
Champagne searched through rooms, trash cans and closets until he found the ring in a dust pile. About 45 minutes after leaving the hospital, Rice received a call from the hospital notifying her that the ring was recovered. She didn't expect to have a happy ending to her day.
Often, those who benefit from the integrity of strangers never get the opportunity to express their gratitude. But Rice, who lives in Versailles, returned to the UK Chandler Hospital on Aug. 22 to personally thank Champagne for his kind deed. Hospital administrators surprised Champagne with balloons and a personalized jacket as a special thank-you for acting with integrity for the benefit of the patient.
Holding back tears, Rice hugged Champagne and told him she would be forever thankful for his returning the ring. Champagne said he finds many lost belongings while working, but he never expected to be thanked for doing the right thing. He was shocked to receive such a recognition.
"If I lose something, I'd like them to give them back to me," Champagne said.
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