ATLANTA — A young boy’s love of gospel music may have saved his life.
Earlier this month, police say a man kidnapped then nine-year-old Willie Myrick from his southwest Atlanta driveway. He allegedly drove the boy around for some time before dropping him off unharmed in East Point.
But Willie’s actions during those terrifying three hours are inspiring people around the country. Willie says he sang the gospel song Every Praise until the man let him go.
Thursday evening, community leaders held a meeting in Willie’s honor, celebrating his happy ending, but also telling other parents and children what to do if this happens to them.
In front of a crowded sanctuary at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Willie recounted the moment he was freed from the car. Willie said while he was singing, the man kept cursing and telling him to shut up before eventually kicking him out.
“He opened the door and threw me out,” Willie said. “He told me not to tell anyone.”
Willie’s story traveled fast and soon caught the ear of Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Hezekiah Walker — the man who performed the song.
“It’s just emotional to me because you never know who you’re going to touch,” Walker told 11Alive’s Blayne Alexander.
Upon hearing the story, Walker made the decision to fly from New York City to Atlanta to meet Willie.
“I just wanted to hug him and tell him I love him,” Walker said.
Thursday evening, the singer entered the sanctuary of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church to a standing ovation, grabbing Willie into a tight hug as tears streamed down the boy’s face. Walker then led the church, and Willie, in singing Every Praise.
Watch the video above to see the emotional embrace between Willie and Walker.
“I really believe that God spoke through me to save that young man’s life,” Walker said.
The man who abducted Willie is still on the loose. Police have released a sketch and are asking anyone with any information to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-TIPS.