Parents today have the ability to shoot video of their toddler's first steps and upload it to social media for posterity. But in the '90s, parents had to use old school video cameras and VHS tapes, and given how often people actually digitize their old footage (pretty much never), these heartwarming moments are often lost forever. Take, for instance, video of a baby boy named TyRe Alexander taking his first steps back in 1994. His parents captured that on a VHS tape which was left in a VCR—and recently recovered by a filmmaker named Jim McKay.
After McKay bought a VCR from a Goodwill in Austin, Texas, he noticed the tape inside. The label on the tape read, "Tyre Learns to Walk. September 27, 1994."
"I'm a dad myself and it just made my heart just swell," McKay told TODAY Parents. "It was really emotional actually seeing that. I recognized it for what it was. People didn't film everything like they do now, it was a big moment. They set up that camera, hoping they would catch that and they did."
On January 4, he took to Facebook to post a clip of the video, in an effort to track down the family, writing, "I found this family home video in a used VCR from Goodwill here in Texas. I really want to return it to the family. Can you help share it in your circles? Hopefully this family is still local. I'm also including a Youtube link for sharing outside of Facebook. If you recognize them, PLEASE show this to them, and have them contact me via email so I can return it."
The post quickly went viral and made its way onto local news stations. That's when TyRe's mom recognized the footage of her then-10-month-old, now-26-year-old taking his first steps. "Her first reaction was 'I know that house, I know that living room,' because she's the one who set the camera up,'' Alexander told TODAY this week. "She was like, 'Those are my cubs,' because she's mama bear. She instantly called me, that was her first instinct to call me and give me that memory."
Alexander, who is now an educator and coach in Austin, quickly connected with McKay over Instagram. They're planning to digitize the home video, which Alexander said "really warmed his heart," in great part because it shows his older brother Symari "clapping so hard" for him.
Of the way it all played out, McKay told his local Spectrum News outlet, "It’s kind of magical. Just like seeing seeing it all come together and work out, you know, kind of like against all odds, is like incredible."