Find Our Missing’s Kahil Gray’s parents re-live the day that their son wandered off in this exclusive TVONE.TV interview. They openly discuss what started off as a nightmare but turned into a dream come true while offering hope to families in crisis.
TVONE.TV: Find Our Missing stated that Kahil loved to play the game hide-and-seek which explains why he ran out of the elevator that dreadful day. At what point did you realize that this wasn’t your typical game of hide-and-seek ?
KAHIL’S FATHER: When Kahil ran out he went thru the door. I followed and ran after him. I kept calling his name but didn’t get an answer. I had a funny feeling then. My hair started to stand up on the back of my neck and my stomach was feeling funny, you know. I immediately reported this to security and they made an announcement over the intercom. My wife was in the building and she heard the announcement and she had a funny feeling too.
TVONE.TV: How long did you search for him at the hospital?
KAHIL’S FATHER: Until the wee hours of the morning, about 5 AM. We didn’t want to go home but the police said for us to go home and get some sleep and that there was nothing else we could do at the hospital. They had dogs searching for him and everything. Even on our way home we drove up and down every alley and side street we could find. We never gave up looking. I had to get a little sleep but his mom never slept.
KAHIL’S MOTHER: I couldn’t sleep. My son is use to three meals a day and all I could think about was him not eating and being outside and all that dangers that could happen.
TVONE.TV: Explain what happened next.
KAHIL’S FATHER: That night, I called my son and he texted pictures of Kahil to the Chicago police. He also started putting alerts out on Facebook and he and his fraternity brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi coordinated a search. Both of my older sons, Micah and Mikyle, are both members.
TVONE.TV: During Kahil’s disappearance there was a Chicago heatwave. Describe the weather.
KAHIL’S FATHER: It was HOT. High 80s –90s and not much wind. Very hot.
TVONE.TV: 39 hours later, you received a call about your son Kahil. Tell us what we didn’t see on the Find Our Missing episode.
KAHIL’S FATHER: Mom got the call. I’ll let her explain.
KAHIL’S MOTHER: I got a call from the Chicago police and they said they had Kahil and he was safe. I started yelling, "THANK YOU JESUS," and then I asked, “can you give him something to eat?” They had just gave him something to eat and gave me a telephone number to call back in five minutes so I could speak to him directly. I couldn’t wait five minutes and I called shortly after and Kahil picked up. I said, “Kahil, I am so happy. I love you,” and he said “I love you too mommy.” I couldn’t believe he was lost for two days. In that moment, it was like a dream. I watch the news and I see these cases and my heart goes out to the families but I never thought it would happen to me.
TVONE.TV: How was Kahil when you picked him up?
KAHIL’S MOTHER: He was a little dehydrated but in excellent shape. I was surprised how good he was!
TVONE.TV: Any words for the lady, Mary Olander, that recognized your son Kahil running in the park that morning and called authorities which got him home safe.
KAHIL’S MOTHER: We keep in touch with her all the time. We texted her at Christmas and Thanksgiving. We will always keep in touch with her. We are so grateful.
KAHIL’S FATHER: There are still some good people in the world!
TVONE.TV: Kahil was found 25 miles away. Do you think he walked/ran that entire distance?
KAHIL’S FATHER: I believe he walked the whole way. When we picked him up, the condition of his legs and feet were very tender. We play soccer/football as a family and out of all my sons, he is the most energetic, very muscular. I know he walked the whole way.
TVONE.TV: What advice would you give parents who may experience a missing child and in your case, the disappearance of a child with special needs?
KAHIL’S MOTHER: Try to keep your kids close at all times, especially for children/people with autism [like Kahil] because it’s harder when they go missing because they can’t communicate.
KAHIL’S FATHER: Alert as many people as possible including social media.
TVONE: Has this incident changed Kahil?
KAHIL’S FATHER: He doesn’t play hide-and-seek anymore. He was 15 at the time of the incident and he is now 16 and stays more to himself. He is not as playful as he was before. It has affected him because he has outbursts from time-to-time. The incident just happened in June (2012) so it’s still kind of fresh. At this time we are giving him all the support we can give him. All things take time and we are all working toward the best for him.
TVONE.TV: How did you make it through?
KAHIL’S MOTHER: HOPE! There is always hope in everything especially if you trust God. We never gave up. We knew we were going to find him. We had that hope but when we would find him, we did not know and in what condition. Never give up home!
KAHIL’S FATHER: I don’t want to share the pain of what we went thru but give knowledge because its hard to lose a loved one. We want to empower people. Believe in a higher power and hope.
WATCH NOW: See a Clip from Find Our Missing about Kahil’s Story Here.
TELL US: Send Your Thoughts to Kahil’s Family Here.