“Let's play ball!” Those are the magic words that helped a Lawrence County couple find their autistic son who was missing in the woods for nearly 24 hours. Fox 17 News in Nashville released the inspirational story soon after the ordeal was over.
Cyrus Parham is a 30-year-old, non-verbal autistic man who loves baseball. “He just has a beautiful soul, you just can't help but love him,” said Gina Old, one of Cyrus’ coaches at Abigail’s Field, a baseball league for people with disabilities. Cyrus and his family live near the Natchez Trace between Waynesboro and Lawrenceburg.
On Tuesday afternoon, July 16th, Cyrus was playing and running outside while his dad was fixing something and he accidentally ran away. His mom says he's an avid runner and loves being active. “He runs very fast. He used to run a five-minute mile,” said mom Tara Parham.
So, they went out searching. Night fell and police stopped the search around 11:30 p.m., but his parents didn't quit. “We walked all through the fields; it was about 4 a.m. when I got home,” said Cyrus’ mom.
The next day, about 100 people including community members, firefighters, and law enforcement went out looking for Cyrus. “I just had this hole in my heart; I just couldn't place where he was at, and he was in the rain all night hungry, thirsty, and lost,” his mom said.
Old said they were calling out different things to which he might respond. “Well, we'll say ‘Cyrus, you’re up,’ or ‘it's your bat,’ or ‘Cyrus, which color bat do you want today? Do you want the red bat or the blue bat?’” Old explained.
“We're going to play ball. Yeah, come on. Let's go play ball, Cyrus,” said Officer Terry Brewer in the video posted on Tennessee River Valley News showing when Cyrus was first spotted. Officer Brewer was one of the first people to get to Cyrus after someone from the fire department radioed that they had found him.
“We were asked just to say, ‘come on Cyrus, let's play ball,’ and that's the first thing that came to my mind and, sure enough, he was ready to go,” Brewer said.
His mom said that Cyrus just likes to run, and running away was an accident and not something he meant to do.
She also said that she couldn't be more thankful to all the people who came out, and that she doesn't think they would have found him without everyone's help.