Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Geocaching keeps Hernando boys' memory in motion

Zak Lukas was a kid who wanted to play every sport and never seemed to stop.

"We couldn't keep him off the field,'' said his mother, Karen.

By the time he was a junior at Hernando High, he had become a star soccer player and one of the strongest runners on the cross country team.

He was hoping to be named cross country captain the following year and kept on training even after the soccer season had begun.

"Zak just loved to run,'' said Kathy DeLorme, a friend of Karen Lukas' who helped come up with an especially fitting way to remember Zak and his soccer teammate, Jason Lewis.

The two teenagers were stranded overnight in the chilly waters of the gulf after their water scooter had become disabled. Their bodies were found six years ago on Monday.

Despite the depth of the tragedy, Karen Lukas and Jason's parents asked mourners to remember the boys' lives, not their deaths.

DeLorme and her friend Patty Allison have done even more than that. They've kept Zak and Jason moving, or at least their memories.

This is possible because of an obscure sport called geocaching, which is like a global scavenger hunt for adults. Players store trinkets, sometimes with written explanations of their significance, in caches — usually Tupperware containers or weather-tight ammunition canisters.

If you've never heard of the sport, you might be surprised to learn there are nearly 700,000 caches tucked away across the country. Clues on how to find these hiding places are either placed in nearby caches or posted on the Web site

Allison, whose son and daughter attended Hernando High with Zak and Jason, decided to create a so-called "traveling bug'' in the boys' honor.

A traveling bug is a memento — in this case a roadrunner carved from mahogany — that includes instructions to move it from one cache to another.

In September 2006, DeLorme dropped it off on a mountain above Coos Bay, Ore., the hometown of Zak's idol, Steve Prefontaine — the distance-running prodigy who died in a car accident at age 24.

The hope is that it will find its way back to an ammo can hidden on a hilltop next to a trail in the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest.

"From there, you can see the trail extending out for a long way,'' Allison said. "And it reminded me of Zak out there, running forever.''

Karen Lukas has tracked the bug's journey through the posts of geocache players, most of whom are hikers or mountain bikers who understand Zak's love of the outdoors.

She doesn't mind that it recently took a detour from New York to Washington State. This means Zak will keep moving, she said. It also means more people will learn about his story — people like the man in Montana who was as big a fan of Prefontaine as Zak was.

He wrote that he had skipped school when he was Zak's age to watch Prefontaine's last college race. Afterward, the runner impulsively handed the boy his race number. He posted a photo of it next to the roadrunner on the Web site.

"My condolences on the loss of Zak,'' the stranger wrote. "Maybe he and Pre are running together over some hill you can't see from here.''

Geocaching keeps Hernando boys' memory in motion 12/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.