KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A simple message shown through action put a humble metro teen in the spotlight.
It began as an Independence police officer’s search for the kind-hearted teen, then the promised dinner date! Although he’s not used to getting all this attention, there’s nothing new about Tyrea Pryor lending a hand.
“I’ve been doing that since I was young, just like helping people,” Pryor said.
He’s made helping people a habit. The 14-year-old volunteers every week at local schools talking with 4th- and 5th-graders about following their dreams.
“Class,” Pryor said to a group of kids, “is there any way he can pursue being a police officer?”
It was an officer who snapped the viral picture of Pryor — caught in the act of kindness.
“It looked like she needed help,” Pryor said.
A woman was struggling to get to her car in the pouring rain. So Pryor ran across the Hy-Vee parking lot, took off his own jacket and shielded the 93-year-old from the rain all the way to her car.
“I was raised to like do right toward anybody,” Pryor said. “It doesn’t matter what race or anything.”
“It just filled my heart. I was just happy,” Pryor’s mom Ebony Findley said.
Findley said it’s a common occurrence.
“Sometimes you can’t find him like, ‘What were you doing?’ ‘Oh, I went and helped so and so cut the grass,’ or ‘I went over here and did this.’ You know? He’s always offering to help someone with their groceries,” Findley said.
During Pryor’s lesson with those elementary students, they showed FOX4’s original story of the officer trying to find the teen.
“He didn’t do that act of kindness because he wanted attention or anything like that,” Pryor’s uncle Nigel Johnson said.
But taking care of that woman and her groceries scored him a free meal. Officer Joe Holt made good on his promise and took Pryor and his mom out to dinner at Red Lobster.
“He said, ‘Buy anything you want.’ I’m like, for real?” Pryor said, “He said, ‘Yeah’.”
Findley said they’ve built a special bond and will continue to stay in touch.
“What he felt that day and the compassion he had was wholeheartedly,” Findley said. “So I appreciate him.”
She appreciates Pryor, too. Findley said she loves how he soaks up life lessons like a sponge and encourages others to do the same.
Pryor’s mom posted a picture to Facebook saying the manager at the Hy-Vee where he helped the woman even gave him a job.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, just do what you know is correct,” Pryor said.