What do two guys majoring in Commerce and History and Computer Science due during their spring break? Well, for University of Virginia roommates Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, they took a nearly 9 hour drive up to Boston, MA to attend a lecture by computer programming entrepreneur Paul Graham. After the lecture, the roommates were lucky enough to sit down with Paul. Alexis and Steve pitched Paul a few ideas to be a part of Paul’s startup accelerator, Y Combinator. Their first ideas were rejected, but shortly after that first meeting, Paul called them up to pitch them a concept for a startup that he called “The Front Page of the Internet”. By 2005, with the help of another University of Virginia classmate, Aaron Swartz, and Y Combinator funding, Reddit was born.
Today Reddit truly is the “Front Page of the Internet”, a place to go to find all the most important news of the day. By 2020, Reddit had become the 7th most daily visited website in the United States, 17th in the world. As people post content on subreddits, they get voted up or down by other viewers. The more positive votes, the higher on the subreddit page the content will appear. The most popular bits of content eventually make it to Reddit’s front page. These subreddits cover a vast range of categories like celebrities, lifestyle, politics, entertainment, basically anything anyone may be interested in. Earlier this month, a local Catskills, NY subreddit had a posting of a missing dog that was voted up to the top of the page.
Gary and Debbie Morgan of Andes, NY, had lost their beloved 4 year old white Labrador Retriever, Meadow. Many of their neighbors were helping them look for Meadow by canvassing the area and posting on message boards that there would be a $500 reward if anyone could locate her. Despondent, the couple was beginng to give up hope, fearing that as temperatures dropped and snow began to fall, they would never see Meadow again. On the 10th day after Meadow went missing, a licensed drone operator and professional hiking guide in the Catskills region, Brian James, happened across the subreddit post.
Often when Brian goes out on a hike, he brings along his drone to capture some of the beautiful landscapes that the Catskill Mountains are known for. His Instagram page is filled with stunning images captured with his drone that highlight the multispectral beauty of the Catskills through all of its seasonal changes. From the lush greens of the spring and summer to the rainbow fall canopy, to the brilliance of winter white mountains, Brian’s drone photography captures it all. On many of his adventures, Brian brings his dog, a white female named Kody. Not long ago, he noticed from some drone footage that Kody’s white coat didn’t quite lend to her camouflaging in with the late autumn, brown landscape.
After reading about Meadow, he immediately responded that he wanted to help. Though he is an experienced hiker based out of Cairo, NY, he had never been to Andes. Still, he hopped into his car with his DJI Mavic drone and drove nearly 2 hours to try and help. “I had never searched from the air before as a mission, nor had I been to the town of Andes,” Brian states on an Instagram post detailing his journey to find Meadow. “I found a spot along the road where she was last seen and sent my drone up.” Working in a grid like pattern, Brian searched every inch of the forested region. His drone battery was winding down, and it was nearly time to give up. He decided to try just one more zone before calling it quits.
His Instagram post goes on to state, “One one of my final passes, from 350 feet above the forest, I saw a speck of white. A tiny pop of color. I descended as far as I could and circled, still unsure. And then a head looked up at me. It was Meadow.” Brian logged the coordinates from the drone, retrieved it, and rushed into the forest to get to Meadow. When he reached Meadow, it took nearly 14 minutes before she felt safe enough to approach Brian. But once she did a rush of relief swept over Brian, he knew this pup would be safe.
Brian returned Meadow weary, but otherwise healthy, to the Morgans who were beyond grateful. They happily handed over the reward money which Brian donated to the local animal shelter. When Brian saw the Reddit post, he never once thought of how he would personally use the reward money, or any recognition that would come his way if he found Meadow. He simply knew that he had the unique knowledge of the Catskill landscape and how to use a drone. He knew that with his drone he could possibly save this dog, and he did. Brian always uses his drone for good, whether it is to take images of beautiful landscapes or capture moments in time for client’s mountain proposals. Now with his drone and the viral capability of Reddit, he has given one family something to be truly thankful for this year.