For the majority of us, childhood is a period of love and growth during which we are mentored by our parents and shaped by their tender hands.
Unfortunately, it can’t be said for everyone.
Even though I was too young to appreciate it at the time, I can now, when I think back on my own childhood, fully see how fortunate I was despite the fact that I was unable to do so at that time.
Stories like the one of 7-year-old Ronnie from Tampa Bay, Florida, shed light on the undeniable truth of such a statement.
On March 18, 2018, woman Kenyatta Barron called 911 and begged for help, fearing for her life. In their Riverview, Hillsborough County, home, Ronnie Oneal III, his father, had just harmed him. He then took the lives of the boy’s mother and sister the same evening.
Detective Mike Blair from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene unsure of what to expect.
According to Blair, who spoke to WFLA, “by the time I arrived that night, we were informed there was a kid being medevacked to Tampa General, but he was not expected to survive.”
Mike believed he had seen and done it all as an investigator with years of expertise. He hadn’t, it turned out.
Detective Blair’s involvement in the case was mostly due to the friendship he would develop with little Ronnie following a visit to the hospital rather than the actual case itself.
“The simplest way to interpret this is that it has been a God thing for us,” he stated.
While Ronnie was recovering in the hospital, Detective Blair was able to bring him items from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronnie reached out and held Mike’s hand one night as he was leaving after they had become friends.
As I walked away, he sort of hung on to my hand and said, “Could you watch a movie with me?”
“We (he and his wife) were planned to go out on a date that night, and I said, ‘hey, instead of doing date night, do you mind if we watch a movie with this kid?”
In spite of the fact that Mike and his wife, Danyel Blair, already had five children of their own, they postponed their date and instead went to the hospital together.
Danyel said, “I had already known that, – even that night, I would want to take Ronnie home with us.
Later, Danyel understood that the moment had arrived.
“I had already begun praying that God would soften Michael’s heart and convince him that Ronnie belonged at home with us.”
Additionally, Detective Blair’s other kids readily agreed.
“At one point during this time, my kids had came to me and said, ‘Dad, you simply need to go with Mom on this; we need to start fostering,’” he said.
Ronnie, now 7, has a new permanent home.
“They are quite lovely people. They are the best parents and really look out for me. Nobody is better than them,” he says.
Detective Blair said that when Ronnie is under stress, he repeats the family motto. “I am safe, I am loved, and I am a part of this family”.
Our thoughts go out to Little Ronnie at this difficult time. The amount of bravery and strength that it must have taken for him to go through what he has is unimaginable.
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