It took about a week and a strong social media network to find the owner of a Shepherd High School class ring, lost for 20 years and rediscovered at an auction.
The story starts months earlier however, when two strangers became social media friends because of a video.
Justin Jermolowicz is a Breckenridge resident who buys and sells auction items for a living; until a few months ago, he didn’t know Jay Gross, a long-time teacher in the Shepherd district.
An emotional video Gross filmed of himself discussing suicide that was viewed more than 65,000 and shared by more than 1,000 people made it’s way to Jermolowicz screen.
“I was so moved by his video I friended him on Facebook and wrote him a heartfelt message thanking him for his passion for saving lives,” Jermolowicz wrote.
Four months later at an auction in Bay City, Jermolowicz saw a class of 1987 Shepherd High School ring that immediately brought Gross to mind.
“I knew Jay was born and raised there and he was around the age of the ring. So i bought it and contacted him,” Jermolowicz said.
The two worked together, sharing Facebook posts of the ring and narrowing it down to one 1987 graduate: Steven Cole.
Even with the networking and reach of social media it took just over a week, more than 700 shares and some sleuthing to narrow in on Cole; as it turns out the Shepherd grad lost his ring 20 years ago.
“It is strange to get it back after all this time,” said Cole, who believes the ring was in a storage unit when he lost track of it during a time he drove a truck across the county for a living.
When classmates finally tracked Cole down —he lives in Missouri now— he shared the original post about his ring on his own Facebook page.
“I‘m the guy your looking for, what do I have to do to get it back?” Cole asked on his page, learning the ring will be in the mail this week, on its way to its original owner.
“I can’t stress enough without meeting Jay I probably would never have attempted this,” Jermolowicz said.
Gross commented on the ripple effect of his original video and the effort to reunite the ring with its owner.
“It was a really neat thing. So happy he got it back,” Gross said. “My heart is more than full.”