In July 2011, Central Florida Area Geocachers (CFLAG) banded together for a good cause. On July 17th, familycachefinders' 17-year-old daughter went missing. In addition to contacting authorities and the media, the they turned to Facebook as a means of getting the word out. Within 24 hours, Facebook pages of local geocachers lit up with links to information about the case. A Facebook group was also created with the purpose of spreading news of her disappearance and giving supporters a place to check in. In a few days the group had over 1500 members. Many posted flyers about the missing girl at their work places and in their own communities all over Florida. Friend of the family, Jarrod88, went so far as to organize a group to distribute flyers to local businesses. Several of the volunteers were geocachers I am honored to know personally.
Most importantly, this story has a happy ending. Less than a week after her disappearance, the girl was found "safe and sound," according to a police statement published in the Orlando Sentinel. Familycachefinders credit the assistance of the CUE Center for Missing Persons for getting the attention of law enforcement and the media. CUE also created the flyers that friends, family, geocachers, and other supporters spread through various communities. Here's an interesting tidbit: CUE has a personal connection to CFLAG. The organization was founded by the sister of a local geocacher (Mimi of War1manandMimi).
This reminded me of another case of a missing Central Florida girl. In April 2010, 11-year-old Nadia Bloom's disappearance made national headlines. A search party was organized, including a few geocachers who added their own time and watercraft to law enforcement's efforts. Despite spending a few days in the swamp, she was found dehydrated and covered in bug bites, but otherwise in good condition. Even though it wasn't a geocacher who actually found Nadia, their efforts were selfless and helpful to the cause.
There are now two caches dedicated to this moment in time when a geocacher's gear and knowledge of Florida's murky, buggy swamps was worth more than a tupperware in the woods. But if you feel the need to visit the area and get a smiley for your troubles, check out GC26RD8 and GC26QJF.
We all joke that geocachers know the best places to hide a dead body (a t-shirt to that effect can be purchased online), but the bottom line is that we like to find stuff, or help find stuff in some cases. It might seem a little pointless to the average muggle, but every once in a while the willingness to search is all that matters.