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A Mother’s Heartfelt Geo-Project

If you find one of these travel tags in a geocache, stop to remember the young player they honour …

Fourteen-year-old Kadian Harding died on July 25 while on a family bike ride in the British countryside.

As he pedalled through Wiltshire, the avid geocacher (GC handle: TheSteepPirates) was accidentally struck by a van; becoming one of 11 young cyclists killed on the country’s roads so far this year.

To keep his memory alive, his family – parents Thomas and Debora, younger sister Sam and pet dog Duke – have ordered 100 custom travel tags from Australian-based webstore My Geo Gear which they hope will travel the world, one cache at a time.

Players across the globe are now rallying to help the Hardings’ project, moved by their grief at the loss of this popular dual US/British citizen or – as was the case for kjwx – simply the story of his too-short life.

Here, his mother Debora tells It’s Not About The Numbers what made her teenage son so special:
 
“Kadian spirit was nurtured by the wilderness and great outdoors in the foothills of West Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

“He’d navigate the limbs of trees intuitively, measuring their strength through his embrace, rather than by the weight of his feet and then sway with them in the wind from their very tops. You couldn’t keep him out of a swimming hole. Rope swings were a magic means of flying through thin air. Shoes were unnatural.  

The Hardings: Mum Debora, Kadian, his sister Sam and dad Thomas.

“Walking adventures through woods and fields were daily food for his soul – especially with his dog Duke. Freshly fallen snow took a hundred different forms. Streams were made for hopping; rain puddles for skipping; blackberries for instant gratification, not collecting. Hidden forts in the woods were as exciting to share as Christmas presents.

“As he neared his teens, one of his greatest loves was his bicycle – largely because of the freedom it gave him to venture further into the countryside with companions or on his own.

“It wasn’t the fitness challenge or the adrenaline rush of an off-road ride that he loved, but a gentle ride through back country lanes where he could drink in the beautiful views. Any quality ride had to end, of course, at an ice-cream store or with a chocolate bar.

“Despite all his passion for the outdoors, Kadian was a creative and serious student. At age 13, he moved to the United Kingdom to attend school at Bedales, in the Hampshire village of Steep. 

Wild child: Shoes were unnatural for Kadian.

“There, he took a serious interest in Apple computers and the company’s founder, Steve Jobs.  So serious, that he created his own podcast channel and spent a considerable amount of time making YouTube movies on the subject under the user name Apple Fanboy.  After Kadian’s death, Apple paid to have those shows rendered and uploaded to iTunes, making them available to a wider audience as a special tribute..

It was in Steep that he also discovered geocaching. This new hobby appealed to all those traits which made Kadian so special – his hunger for adventure and discovery, his creativity, his readiness for a good challenge or problem-solving, his love of partaking in a larger community. Most of all, though, it led him to the beauty and wonder of the world.  

“The mission of Kadian’s memorial travel tags is to travel to as many of UNESCO’s designated World Heritage Sites – whether they be cultural or areas of outstanding beauty – in as many countries, as possible.  

“This United Nations body catalogues, names and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Locations such as the Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China and in New Zealand, Tongariro National Park, the sub-Antarctic islands and Te Wähipounamu (Fiordland area) in the lower west corner of the South Island.

Best mates: With his dog Duke.

“It is our hope in doing so that you will take Kadian’s spirit with you to places he would love to have gone, and in so exploring, he will lead you to the kind of beauty he shared with the world.”

*If you knew Kadian Harding or discover one of his travel tags on your travels, please consider sharing your stories and pictures with his family’s online memorial, Kadian Project.

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