Life has been difficult for young Ronnie Oneal, but behind his tragic past is a story of hope for the future.
In March 2018, Ronnie’s father killed his girlfriend, their 9-year-old daughter and stabbed his then 8-year-old son, Ronnie. The raging dad then set their family’s home on fire.
Detective Mike Blair of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was among those who responded to the brutal scene.
“By the time I arrived that night, we were told there was a child being medevacked to Tampa General, but he was not expected to live,” Mike said in a video shared by the sheriff’s office.
Despite the grim prognosis, Ronnie survived his injuries. Mike visited him while he was in the hospital, and the boy only had one wish—someone to watch a movie with.
“He kinda held onto my hand and, as I left he said, ‘Could you watch a movie with me?’” Mike recalled of their conversation.
Sadly, Mike couldn’t stay and said he had to go back to work, but promised Ronnie he would come back that night to watch a movie with him.
Ronnie, who was on a lot of painkillers and medication, agreed and quickly fell back asleep.
Mike and his wife were planning to go on a date that night, so he called her and asked if she was willing to change plans.
“I said, ‘Hey, instead of doing date night, do you mind if we go watch a movie with this kid?’” he said.
Danyel, Mike’s wife, said she felt an instant connection upon meeting Ronnie.
“I had already known that I would want to take Ronnie home with us starting that night,” she said.
And that’s exactly what happened. The following year, in 2019, the Blairs welcomed Ronnie into their home. He became the eighth member of their family.
When the Guardian ad Litem contacted Mike to ask if he knew anyone who would want to adopt Ronnie, he had an instant answer.
“I said, ‘We’ll take him,’” he responded. “Just bring him to our house.”
The sheriff’s office shared a series of photos showing Ronnie posing with his new family. He told the sheriff’s office that he now attends a new church.
“I have a different brother and sister. I have a different mom and dad. I have a different house,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to be with them.”
Although Ronnie is happy with the Blairs, he hasn’t forgotten about his mom and sister, who had special needs. He wants people to know that they shared many good memories before the tragedy occurred.
“She was nice, pushed me on a swing, made me some good wings, made me all type of food. She was just a good mom,” he said. “My sister, she couldn’t talk, but she, like, could move her hand. We used to do sign language. She was very nice.”
The now 12-year-old is aware of his story, but he doesn’t want people to only remember him based on that.
“He knows he has a story that has been written for him. He also knows he doesn’t want to be defined by that story,” Mike said.
Just like every other kid, Ronnie has big dreams. He wants to be an actor when he grows up. For now, he loves science and enjoys playing with his brother.
Here’s the story of Ronnie’s adoption.
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