Randall Chesser doesn’t have time for interviews. He’s too busy singing along with the radio, bouncing a basketball, tinkering with a microwave or playing with a kitten.
All of those things are infinitely better than what he was doing last year at this time.
This time last year, he was lost, wandering outside in the rain.
Not now, though. His clothes are dry and he’s roaming around outside his house, investigating anything that comes into his path.
Chesser went missing on Sept. 24, but was found, miraculously, on Sept. 26.
Over 500 volunteers, excluding rescue personnel, searched for Chesser during the 45 hours he was missing.
He wandered three miles from his home on Lawrenceburg Road through rough terrain, but not a scratch was found on him.
Chesser was stuck outside during a hard rain that lasted through the night and into the morning. When two firefighters from Mercer County found him, he was soaking wet.
Darren, Randall’s father, doesn’t necessarily like to think about the incident.
“We’re trying our best to forget it, so I hope this is the last time ya’ll bring it up,” he said. “It’s hard enough to swallow as it is.”
Darren said when he found out Randall had been found, he was happy the boy was alive.
“Him, he’s boot tough and that’s what saved (his life),” Darren said. “He’s just boot tough.”
Randall’s parents said the boy did act a little skittish during storms at first, but that has passed. He just says that he went hunting and that he saw squirrels and rabbits.
Beverly, Randall’s mother, said when the state trooper told them that her son had been found, she split the crowd on her porch and went running towards the police.
She asked if Randall was OK. The trooper said it sounded like he was.
Beverly rode with relatives in the police cruiser to the Lebanon-Springfield Airport, where a helicopter took Randall to Kosair Children’s Hospital. Beverly had a chance to see Randall before he took off, though.
When they opened the ambulance, she ran to him.
She said he looked directly at her and said he just wanted to go home.
Beverly said at the hospital she thought Randall would be put on a light diet to build him back up.
“He had pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, peaches, a roll. And milk. He ate every bit of that,” she said.
Then, maybe 30 minutes later, he told her he was hungry.
He requested a McDonald’s Happy Meal, so his family obliged.
Later that night, Randall’s first night in the hospital, Beverly crawled in bed with her son.
“You know, just in case he did have some dreams, he’d have somebody there beside him,” she said. “He slept all night long like it was nothing.”
The next day, she said, Randall was feeling really good. He was pillow fighting with his dad.
“We knew then we were going home pretty quick,” she said.
Beverly said she couldn’t express her appreciation for all of the people that helped out during the search for Randall.
She said she was grateful for everyone from McDonald’s, to people she never saw but who helped look for him, to the Red Cross, to restaurants that donated food, to Corner Market and the two firemen who found Randall.
She said that on the second day of the search, she woke up at 5 a.m. and told people at her house that Randall would be found that day. She had a maternal feeling, she said.
As Beverly tried to remember all the people who helped out, Randall climbed in a truck, cranksed the radio and sang along.
“He loves to sing,” she said. “He sings all the time. He’ll wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning singing country songs.”
Beverly said her son loves basketball, is getting pretty good at softball, loves golf and is playing some volleyball and horseshoes.
“He’s sporty. He’s going to be a sporty guy,” she said. “I guess he got it from me because I did a lot of sports back in school.”
Randall is outfitted with a Project Lifesaver bracelet now, too.
The device, worn on his wrist like a watch, can help locate him within minutes if he ever wanders away again.
“If he gets away from us, all I’ve got to do is call a 1-800 number and in less than two minutes they can tell me exactly where he’s at,” Beverly said.
Beverly said that she doesn’t think Randall understands that it’s been a year, but she said they might let off some fireworks on that day. He loves fireworks, she said.
But, if that day is like last Friday, Randall will be too busy checking out cars, cats or anything else that might cross his path to notice the anniversary of when he returned to the arms of his family.