A 13-year-old boy is being praised for being a Good Samaritan after he found a wallet with no identification containing more than $500 and turned it over to authorities.
A Riverview police detective tracked down the wallet’s 14-year-old owner, who was so grateful that he gave the teen who found it a $100 reward.
The wallet, displaying “Mario Brothers” video game characters, was found in some snow two days after Christmas by Elijah Akers, a Newport resident who was visiting grandparents Ronald and Sherri Akers on Matthews Street in Riverview.
Elijah said he thought the wallet contained a young person’s Christmas money, along with a video game store card and an autographed football card, so he tried for hours to locate the owner before turning it into police.
“I figured it was somebody’s Christmas money,” Elijah said. “I didn’t want some kid to be out of that money. That would have been bad.”
The eighth-grader at Jefferson Middle School in Monroe said he rode his bicycle looking for someone who was searching for a wallet, keeping an eye out for anyone slowing down.
“There was never a doubt,” said Elijah, who turns 14 on February 22. “If I lost my wallet, I would want somebody to return it to me or return it to the police and try to find me.”
Riverview police Detective Mike Buccinna posted news of the found wallet on the department’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, he contacted management of the Super Game Time video game store in Southgate and was able to retrieve a phone number associated with the membership card.
Buccinna called Elizabeth Girard, who confirmed the wallet and its contents belonged to her son, Simon Baker, of Riverview. Buccinna learned that Simon was a gaming enthusiast who was saving his money to purchase an X-Box video game system. By Dec. 30, the wallet and its contents were back in Simon’s possession.
“It was very good for him to turn it in,” Buccinna said. “It definitely made a difference to the owner of the wallet… It meant a lot to him.”
Simon said the wallet must have fallen out of his jacket pocket as he was going for a bike ride to a park and a couple nearby businesses, including the Circle K, where he purchased a snack. The eighth-grader at Seitz Middle School said he spent two hours retracing his route with no luck.
“I told everybody, ‘the wallet is gone,’” Simon said. “There goes $550.”
Girard said her son is a “star student who loves his community” and “an all-around good kid” who usually knows better than to carry so much cash.
“I can’t believe he fumbled that amount of money,” she said. “He likes his money in ones, so his wallet is usually pretty thick. He feels like he’s extra rich. This kid is something else.”
When Girard learned the wallet and its contents were intact, she said “there are still good people in the world.”
When she relayed the news to Simon, he called it “a Christmas miracle.”
Simon said the money came from relatives who gave him cash instead of gifts for birthdays and Christmas so he could purchase a video game system.
With school children spending so much time at home during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Simon said he spends more time playing video games rather than going outside. He said he had planned to deposit the funds into a bank account until he saved enough. Losing the wallet was a blow, at least temporarily.
“My puppa and my other gramma said this was God giving me another chance,” Simon said. “I kind of believe it. Now I know not to carry all of my money with me in my wallet.”
Simon called Elijah “a good person” who deserved a reward.
The Riverview Register newspaper arranged a meeting at the Riverview Police Department between the boys, their family members, Riverview police and Mayor Andrew Swift. Simon presented Elijah with $100.
“On behalf of the Riverview City Council, I would like to congratulate Elijah for doing the right thing,” Mayor Swift said. “The world needs more honest people like Elijah. We know his family is very proud of him for turning in the wallet he found to the Riverview Police Department that contained a large amount of money.”
Elijah’s mother, Becky Daugherty, said her son did the right thing. Grandmother Sherri Akers called him “a Good Samaritan.”
“He’s just very caring and very giving,” said Daugherty, a single mother of two boys who works at the Walmart store in Woodhaven. “He’s the kind of kid that if he’s walking through a store and sees something out of place, he fixes it. According to my mom, he’s perfect in every way.”
If the wallet had not been claimed by its rightful owner, the money would have gone to Elijah, who would have donated the cash to charity, his mother said.
“We both knew this child was not going to keep this money,” Daugherty said. “The whole time he hoped somebody would claim it… The money was never his. It was not money he earned.”
“He’s got the biggest heart and has the best sense of humor,” Daugherty said. “And he’s really an amazing human.”