Michael Blake Wingham, of Winter Haven, is much like many other 11-year old boys.
He loves baseball, swimming and is always looking for treasure.
And, after a long day of sun and sand at Englewood Beach recently with his two brothers and mother, Kristi, he spotted it.
As he waited near the wooden walkway that takes visitors from the beach to their cars, Michael saw something shiny. He bent down to pick it up and quickly deposited it in his pocket, unwilling to yet share his find.
Once his mother and brothers joined him, they loaded up in the car and headed home. But, on his way to their parked van, he quietly shared with his mom, “I’ve gotta tell you something.”
Settled into their seats for the two-hour drive home, Michael Blake excitedly pulled out the ring to show his family. The class ring had a dark green stone, a bull rider, the numbers “1979” and the words “Lemon Bay High School” on the outside, as well as the name of the owner etched on the inside.
“He (Michael) didn’t know what a class ring was, so I explained to him the sentimental value of it and what it symbolized,” Kristi said. “I had no idea where Lemon Bay High School was so, when I could, I Googled it.”
They learned that the school is in Englewood. Once they arrived home, Kristi went into detective mode and found an online group called “What’s Happening in Englewood, Florida.” There, she created a post asking if anyone knew the person whose name was on the inside of the ring.
Almost immediately, she got two responses pointing her to a man who was from Englewood but had since moved to Maine. She then tagged him in the post and, by the next morning, she had an email from him.
First he described the ring, just to make sure it belonged to him. The owner told Kristi that it had been lost for at least 10 years. He remembers giving it to a girlfriend who refused to return it.
“He was very appreciative and thanked me three times,” Kristi recalled.
Last week, she sent it out to him via first class mail to Maine.
Michael, a rising seventh-grader at Jewett Academy, said he will continue to look for treasure and hopes to get a metal detector for his birthday in August.