In July, Donald Hart, the girls softball coach for the Paris School District, and his daughter Jacee, who plays volleyball for the Lady Eagles, traveled to Branson to coach and play softball for a 16 and under traveling team.
The team won the Worlds Series at the event and then something tragic happened.
“We got through playing ball and Sunday we packed up,” Donald Hart said. “We had a trailer and we put Jacee’s suitcase in it. We didn’t latch the trailer. The trailer door came open and we lost the suitcase.”
The pair made it past Alpena before noticing the loss.
“We’d won the tournament but lost the suitcase. I went from being a hero to a zero really fast,” Hart said. “We drove back to Alpena looking for it. We went to the gas station to see if they had a camera.
At the station, they were told it had been seen and they were also told someone had picked it up. Here’s the problem. The suitcase has between $600 and $700 worth of stuff in it. Hart said they were told again the next Monday that someone had picked it up.
But, the odds were that the suitcase and its contents were gone for good.
Then, the next Tuesday, text messages started coming in. The suitcase had been found by Martha Hendrix who lived in Harrison. She also found several items inside labeled Paris Eagles. She contacted school Superintendent Wayne Fawcett, who contacted Lady Eagles volleyball coach Jordan Devine. Devine, who knew the case had been lost, contacted Hart.
“Coach Devine knew we had lost it,” Hart said. “My mom and dad drove to Harrison, picked it up and brought it back to Jacee.”
With the suitcase and contents returned, Jacee, who is entering the ninth grade this year, was relieved.
“I’m just very happy I got it all back,” Jacee said.
Hart was also relieved and grateful.
“It was very nice of that lady to take the time and effort to try and find the owner,” Hart said. “There are still some honest people.
“I guess we’re fortunate that everything didn’t fall out,” he said. “We were gone for a week and packed for a week. We had a lot of stuff. We are very fortunate that an honest person found it.“