EDITOR’S NOTE: Geocachers Care highlights the often untold good deeds of the geocaching community.
Bret Hammond’s eight year old son Connor is quick to say “hi” and “bye.” Like other eight-year-olds, Connor makes choices, requests and almost every night around bedtime he asks his dad for a ride in their Jeep. But Connor has never spoken a word. Connor has a form of autism.
He communicates through a specialized touchscreen device that speaks for him. Connor’s father Bret (geocaching user name CYBret) says the device works well in therapy. It costs $7,000. The cost is not covered by insurance.
A few months ago, Bret says, one of Connor’s therapists at the Illinois Autism Project suggested using the iPad. New software for the iPad accomplishes most of the functions of the $7,000 touch screen device for about $200. But the price tag for the iPad and software was still more than he could afford.
The therapist contacted a local charity. Bret and Connor waited for a decision. However that decision left them shaking their heads. Bret writes, “When it finally came we were very disappointed. They decided to pass because the iPad could be used by someone else in the family.”
Dismayed, Bret posted a comment on Facebook. Bret’s fellow geocachers responded with the same confusion and disappointment. They also responded with something else.
Bret explains, “… I got an email from a geocacher in Indianapolis (Matt from LakeDawgs) asking me to call him ASAP. I did and Matt said that several of them had been talking and decided that they wanted to do something about it. They put together a Paypal account to funnel funds in and–as of last Friday–Connor has an iPad, Proloquo2Go software and an awesome Otterbox case.”
Nearly 50 geocachers from donated to the account. Bret writes that the geocachers provided them, “…with this amazing tool that lets Connor communicate with us, eases his frustrations and gives him a voice.”
Bret writes, “I can’t tell you how blessed I am by this community. When I started playing this game over 8 years ago I never even thought I’d meet another geocacher. Now, 8 years later they are among some of my best friends and I don’t know what I would do without these people.”
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