Geocachers Care – August 2010


Bret (CYBret) and Connor

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.”

If you have a story you would like to be considered for the next installment of “Geocachers Care,” please email blogs@groundspeak.com

  • lakedawgs (Matt & Alicia)

    We could not be happier for Connor and wish him (and the family) all the best.

  • Thanks for all you do.

  • David Way

    Our son Spencer has Autism and that is one reason I joined GeoCaching, to help him with his sensory issues. He was diagnosed in 2005 and he is 10 now. We love to go to the beach, camping and hiking so it is perfect to GeoCache. Check out our profile, “the3turtles” and you will see. This is a very cool story. Way to go GeoCaching.

  • Hockeyhick

    Great story, and even better group of friends!

  • Jaydeadheader-jake

    of all the activities i have participated in, the community surronding geocaching is the most kind-hearted, accepting, and friendly.

    im very happy for Conner, enjoy geocaching and your dads jeep little man

  • Kelly Heltsley

    I am currently Connor's Aide in school. I was with Connor last year and it was frustrating at times for him when he was trying to let me know what he wanted. This is so amazing that Connor now has the ability to communitcate his wants and needs with his family. Thank you for everyone who made this possible for Connor and his family. You all are amazing people!!

  • Nicole and Bill

    'Kudos' to this aw-inspiring game! You just never know what level it'll take you!!
    We're so happy for Connor and wish him and his family good health and happy caching!
    'lionchaser' from Port Mcneill, BC, Vancouver Island

  • Wow! Reading this post and watching the video, I am in tears! This is awesome!

  • Opa&PK

    Even with our economic and social problems in this country, we're still a nation of volunteers and givers. Good for them and good for Connor.

  • Patsy

    That is so awesome!!! It's refreshing to hear of people doing good things nowadays instead of the constant barrage of garbage that we hear. This is a heart warmer. Insurance companies should take note- what if it were one of their children (the execs) and they needed this expensive piece just to communicate everyday words? Bet it would be covered then. God Bless you folks for being so giving!!

  • Gage_dennison

    Looks like an ipod touch to me

  • An amazing story, showing that geocaching is more than just a fun outdoor activity !
    I'm glad Connor likes the iPad, my kids also love to play with it (and so does their dad…).

  • Uwe

    I like he story for a number of reasons: It shows the power of IT solutions of cause, but moreover it tells what kind of community we got.

  • Uwe

    I like he story for a number of reasons: It shows the power of IT solutions of cause, but moreover it tells what kind of community we got.

  • Jut1972

    My son is autistic but not to the extent of Connor. A great story and I’m going to track that software down (android equivalent anyone?) So more kudos to you all you’ve helped another child.

  • AWESOME too read this article. I am so happy too hear that Connor got what he needed!

    We LOVE geocaching and we do this as a team with my 7 year old ASD son and his autism service dog. We cache as CherieAutismMom from Wiarton, Ontario Canada!

  • Revbevak

    I am a special ed art teacher in an all special ed public school.  I have students a lot like Connor, and kids with all kinds of conditions – great kids, all of them!  I use geocaching a lot in class; it is supported by district, state, and national standards!  I’ve met awesome people through GC-ing – what a cool hobby!

  • Jeremy “WyoKrewe” Collins

    My son Brendan has Asperger’s. This story really warms the heart! I know how tough it can be to be in this type of position, and how overwhelmingly good it can feel to receive a gift of caring like this. Congrats to Connor and his Dad! How awesome this is! And to the donors, WAY TO GO!!!

  • saiyandide

    This story hit close to home all 3 of my children have been diagnosed with autism. My middle child Alex has apraxia of speech and like Connor needs an AAC to communicate. We are blessed enough to have good enough health coverage along with wonderful people that work with him that pushed us through the paper work to get him his. I wish Connor the best of luck in his ability to adapt and overcome the adversity he is faced with.