— -- A special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was looking for a way for his visually impaired daughter to experience an Easter egg hunt just like her normal-sighted older brother when he re-imagined an old idea that has now spread across the country.
David Hyche, a 27-year ATF veteran from Birmingham, Alabama, says he was helping his local church plan the annual Easter egg hunt nine years ago when he realized his then 19-month-old daughter, Rachel, who was born premature and has been blind since she was 4-months-old, would not be able to fully participate.
“I was researching online how she could do an Easter egg hunt and have fun with it and I found that people were already making beeping eggs,” Hyche told ABC News. “I called a man in Los Angeles and he told me how he did it and then I came up with a cheaper way to do it.”
Hyche made 40 of the beeping eggs in his own garage that year, at a price of about $14 per egg. Each egg took him about 20 minutes to make, Hyche says, and consisted of a switch, a piezo beeper, a 9-volt battery and battery clip inside a plastic egg, with the beeping activated by soldering wires together.
A handful of visually impaired kids, Rachel included, showed up at the first Beeping Easter Egg hunt Hyche hosted in Birmingham nine years ago. Hoping to spread it further, Hyche recruited his colleagues at ATF and friends at bomb squads throughout Alabama to help him make more beeping eggs.
This year, three Beeping Easter Egg hunts were held in Birmingham alone, according to Hyche, with dozens more held across the country. Hyche says one of his favorite photos of his now 10-year-old daughter shows Rachel dropping her cane and sprinting across a field at the sound of a beeping egg.
Around six years ago, Hyche's idea drew an unlikely ally in the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI), a Virginia-based association of 5,000 members that contributes $10,000 annually to what it has dubbed “The Rachel Project.”
The IABTI’s commitment includes sending beeping Easter eggs to any group that requests them for a hunt, at no cost. IABTI’s members assemble the eggs and then send them to its Virginia headquarters, where officials then ship the finished eggs to the requesting groups.
Each egg now costs $11.50 to make, according to the IABTI, which posts a step-by-step explainer on its website.
“A lot of schools for the blind use the eggs year-round to teach kids how to locate things because it teaches them to use a logical pattern to search,” said Hyche, an IABTIT member.
“It’s teaching these kids independence,” he said. “It’s not just an Easter egg hunt like it is for other people.”