HANOVER, VA - Cheers of joy and relief! That was the reaction when volunteers were told Robert had been found, alive! These volunteers came from across the country, 6,000 souls touched by one lost little boy.
One week ago, these were perfect strangers. Friday night, they are united by miles in the woods and the satisfaction of reuniting an 8-year-old with his family.
"Bottom line is, we have located the young man and as soon as we make identification with the parents, we will be very, very happy. Alright?" shouted officials to hundreds of gathered volunteers.
There were cheers of utter jubilation for the boy most of these people have never met, and yet one to which they say now- their emotions are forever tied.
"As our team were on the bus and we just knew that today was going to be the day and we were all just believing it and hoping it," said Michelle Boswell. "We just felt so relieved that God answers everyone's prayers, that today was the day."
"I saw the mother being rushed from the trailer out to the waiting police car," Victor Graves told us. He's a volunteer fire fighter from Maryland who came down for the search. "I thought to myself, if she's being rushed, there's something to rush for...there's a reason to hurry and that reason is usually something positive that you want to get to quickly."
It was a week where perfect strangers became foot soldiers, united by one cause and undeterred by doubt. They were committed to bringing Robert home. And as cold weather loomed ahead, they knew Friday had to be the day they found him.
As one volunteer put it, 6,000 people brought Robert home.
"I appreciate every man and woman here who took their heart and did such a courageous thing to come out just with everything going on just to stand here and just to stand in prayer and just believing that today was going to be the day," said Boswell.
Many of those volunteers came from out of state- one even had autism herself and felt she might have some extra skills to help find him.
Authorities say the volunteers were so plentiful- they had to turn some away because they just didn't have the resources to handle them- and what a testament that is to the spirit of the community here in Hanover County.