The summer of 2016 abounded with many people across all age groups wandering on streets, in parks, and about everywhere in search of Pokémon. The craze spread across the world and had people glued to their mobile screens, which made them look for virtual and “friendly” monsters. The online world of Pokémon also had Pokéstops scattered around the city where players could access additional features and provisions of the game.
One such stop is in Kenney Shields Park in Covington, Kentucky. Allison Hines, an avid player, frequently visited the park as, at the park, she could get Pokéballs and Pokémon Eggs to capture more Pokémon, as well as advance her level in the game.
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On April 20, 2018, Hines was at the park in the morning as usual. However, this day was different, as she encountered a stranger who clearly needed some help. At first, she just waved at him, noticing his Navy baseball cap as she, too, is a Navy veteran. But as she moved ahead, her gut feeling insisted that she turn the car around and check on the stranger.
She listened to her instincts and went back to the man. The stranger in question was Homer Howard, who was 83 years old. Howard was lost and didn’t even realize that he was in a different state altogether.
Howard is a resident of Maineville, Ohio, which is a good 30-35 miles away from Covington. It’s still uncertain how exactly Howard reached Kentucky from Ohio; however, he had been reported as missing by his daughters, Tammy Richardson and Tonya Geringer. They had filed the missing persons report 24 hours earlier.
When Hines informed Howard that he was in Kentucky and not in Ohio, she realized that he, too, was surprised and didn’t know how he got there. He told her that his wife or a medical van was going to come for him; however, she noticed that he was very confused and unsure about his surroundings. She had a feeling that he might have dementia and encouraged him to remember his wife’s name and contact number. Luckily, he did.
As soon as she got the number, Hines immediately contacted Howard’s family and Howard was reunited with his family in the evening of the same day itself.
Later, Hines wrote about the whole incident on Facebook. She mentioned the importance of talking to each other and looking out for one another too. She added that her love for Pokémon and the U.S. Navy helped her save a man’s life and reunite him with his family.
With regard to Pokémon Go, Hines says: “I’m very grateful for Pokémon Go. What I loved about it is, when I played, it got me out in the community. It was a social game. Today, it saved a man’s life.”
However, she also talks about the importance of being in the present and offline. Hines states that the whole incident has made her believe that it is important for us to get away from the online world from time to time and work on making real connections with real people around us. She said: “There’s nothing more powerful than the human touch and a human connection. We should never lose that.”
She acknowledges that while Pokémon Go made her go out in the community, her instincts and the human connection she formed with Howard is what reunited him with his family.