A young sixth grader from Minnetonka, Minnesota named Stuart Fish finally got a much wished for Christmas present last Sunday. It would have been nestled under the tree, ready to open on Christmas, but the only problem was that the gift was lost on a family vacation more than 1,200 miles away in Utah.
It all began when Fish traveled to Utah with his family to visit relatives for Christmas. He didn’t know his mom had packed a special gift for him to open Christmas morning, a robotic Lego set called “Lego Mindstorms.”
“When we realized it was gone, I was so devastated that we didn’t have the one special gift we intended to give him.” said Amy Fish, Stuart’s mother, who doesn’t know how they lost the gift, but could only surmise it fell out of the family truck after a gathering with relatives.
Fish returned back to Minnesota with her family, with plans to buy the Lego set again for Stuart’s birthday on Jan. 10. What the family didn’t know, was that a Utah Highway Patrol trooper had been trying to track the family down for more than two weeks after he found the gift on the side of the road during his usual patrols two days before Christmas.
“It was around 11:30 or so at night, and I caught something out of the corner of my eye on the side of the road, and I was like, that was out of place.” said Trooper Jared Clanton.
Clanton is the father of a young boy himself, and he understood the necessity to find the gift’s intended recipient. He sent out a Facebook post to search for whomever was supposed to receive the present, and also followed one more clue. A sticker for the Minnesota toy store “Creative Kidstuff” which decorated the package, but even after connecting with the store management, the holiday came and went without any answers.
Last week, Amy Fish went to buy the gift again at the local “Creative Kidstuff.” When there, she mentioned to the store manager that she had lost the same toy while traveling to relatives in Utah for Christmas. The manager then remembered Trooper Clanton’s Facebook post and connected with him. Nearly two weeks after he found the gift, Clanton’s phone rang.
“When I saw Minnesota on my caller ID, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’” said Clanton. “It made it worth it, and that’s really… that’s what it’s all about, right? He didn’t get it for Christmas, but he’ll get it on his birthday.”
Then realizing Jan. 10 was Stuart’s 11th birthday, Clanton overnighted the package to Minnesota, paying for the postage out of his own pocket, and inside the box, also included a special letter and $10 cash gift for Stuart.
Greg and Amy Fish recorded the moment Stuart opened his gift and listened to their son read Clanton’s letter aloud.
“Stuart, buddy, I heard you lost something but you didn’t know what it was. I also heard it’s your birthday as well, so Happy Birthday,” read Stuart Fish, fighting tears.
“Enclosed you will find a little something from my family for being such a good sport, so nice to meet each of you,” he continued, wiping tears from his eyes.
Stuart said he is already composing his thank you letter to Trooper Clanton, forever remembering his gift and the kindness of the officer’s generosity.
“He spent all that just for me, and he doesn’t know me, that could be the best present I got for my birthday,” Stuart said.