by Linda Mumma

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A 12-year-old Stockton boy got a well-deserved award after finding a $100 bill on the ground at the University of the Pacific four months ago.

His family described today’s surprise ceremony as a “priceless moment” for their star seventh-grader.

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“I’m very proud of him. I’m actually overwhelmed, to be honest with you,” said his mother, Tara Eaton.

The moment helped illustrate that honesty pays off.

“I thought if we could all be that way, that would be such a marvelous thing in the world,” said Dr. Nancy Shaw-Elium, Program Administrator of the Reach for the Stars Academy at the University of the Pacific.

As part of the surprise, officers presented 12-year-old Roman Eaton with a challenge coin and brought the hundred dollar bill out of evidence to open up and give to Eaton for doing the right thing.

“My son was diagnosed autistic two years ago so to see him rise above his own setbacks he has to deal with… I’m just so proud of him,” said his mother.

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During this summer’s “Jose Hernandez Reach for the Stars STEM Academy” at UOP, Eaton spotted the big bill on the sidewalk while walking back to class after lunch.

“I picked it up, put it in my pocket, decided whether to turn it in or keep it and I turned it in because UOP is expensive,” he joked.

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Eaton handed the money to academy director Dr. Nancy Shaw-Elium, who passed it along to the Public Safety Department.

“And they gave us the protocol; wait 90 days and if no one claims it then it’s his,” she added.

Nearly four months went by and no one claimed the cash so the school coordinated with Eaton’s mom.

“He was kind of on to me because I told him I had spoken to Nancy and that they wanted to commend him on turning in the money,” she said.

The group gave the little boy a big surprise for his great deed.

“I thought it was such a great representation of his behavior that exemplified integrity, honesty, responsibility and character,” said Shaw-Elium. “This is a good example that shows civility still exists and we have a 12-year-old actually showing us how to conduct ourselves as adults.”

As for what Eaton is going to do with the $100, he said, “Save it for college maybe. I don’t know.”

The seventh-grader is a standout mathematician at John Adams Elementary School. He was one of 50 students chosen from about 3,000 the school district nominated to participate in the Summer STEM program.

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Shaw-Elium said his test scores secured his spot; a fitting scenario because when asked what he wants to do when he gets older, Eaton replied, “A statistician or a Sports Announcer.”