Although Timothy’s Gift was officially founded in May of 2010, the beginnings go back to the summer of 1998 with one man. Ron Miller, sitting alone, watching a TV program — one that would change the course of his life. The Dateline NBC story that warm June evening was about a young man named Timothy Kane.
On Super Bowl Sunday, 1992, soon after Timothy’s fourteenth birthday , two older boys went to burglarize a home they thought was unoccupied. Those older boys, whom all the younger boys looked up to, asked Timothy to go with them. Once inside the house, they unexpectedly found the residents at home. It was then that things got out of hand. Young fourteen year old Timothy tried to leave, but the older guys forced him (at gunpoint) to stay. He cowered under a dining room table, crying. The two older boys proceeded to murder the elderly woman and her son. All three were quickly apprehended and arrested. Ultimately, because of Florida’s felony murder rule, Timothy was given two life sentences — even though he never touched nor harmed the victims.
Ron’s heart was touched by the story of this young boy with an IQ of 137, who had been a star athlete and model student. He wrote Timothy a letter soon after the program ended. This led to a meeting with Timothy at the Florida institution where he continues to be incarcerated. Since that time, Ron and Timothy have become good friends. A television news program had, indeed, changed the course of Ron’s life — hopefully, Timothy’s, too!
As their friendship grew, Ron quickly began investigating the prospects of pursuing clemency for Timothy. First there were meetings with attorneys, Timothy’s family, some boyhood friends…then more attorneys. Before long, Ron’s life had become a series of travel, meetings and conference calls revolving around his mission. One day of trying to find a couple of Timothy’s old friends took Ron into the depths of one of the Tampa area’s less desirable neighborhoods, replete with drug houses and seedy characters. Another meeting took place in a world “far away” from the back streets of the Tampa area. In trendy and posh Coral Gables, Ron met with former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, and shared Timothy’s story. Although very gracious and generous with his time, there was little he could do since he was no longer governor.
The whole process of seeking clemency can be compared to a roller-coaster ride. During one visit, Ron couldn’t contain his excitement about some recent developments as he shared them with Timothy. He tempered his excitement by suggesting that he should be careful in offering too much hope to Timothy. Timothy replied, “Ron, hope is ALL I have!” There are continual rays of hope in Timothy’s dark sky. The appellate judge who upheld the lower court’s conviction of Timothy, the assistant prosecuting attorney who helped prosecute Timothy and the arresting officer who apprehended Timothy are all now supporters of Timothy’s clemency attempt.
As of early 2011, there is rejuvenated interest in Timothy’s case coming from members of the new administration….at least a willingness from several members of congress to listen to Timothy’s case and a desire to help!
So many people have become interested in this story that several years ago Ron launched a website called www.friendsoftimkane.com.
Hundreds of people from all over the world started following Timothy’s story. One of those followers (as well as friend and fellow church board member) is John Starnes. John, a world-renowned gospel singer, recognized Ron’s passion for Timothy’s story, as well as inmates in general, and suggested that Ron start an outreach to prisoners. So, in the summer of 2010, Ron & John founded Timothy’s Gift, a non-profit corporation established to provide friendship to inmates through inspirational programs, materials and visits! To date, Timothy’s Gift has been in dozens of Florida prison chapels and, as God provides the resources, looks forward to expand into all fifty states!