Ryan Mescher, a Severna Park resident and junior at Gilman School in Baltimore, is determined to make life safer for families with autistic children by creating Boomers Inc., a nonprofit and a product that helps autistic children who elope to get home safely.
Elopement is a serious issue within the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community where people with ASD run or wander away from caregivers. According to the National Autism Association, 49 percent of individuals with ASD have a tendency to wander. While many people are found unharmed, many cases result in death or require medical attention.
“Knowing 50 percent of autistic children will elope, I think this product is necessary because it helps eliminate the dangers and the stress on parents for those children that elope,” said Ryan.
In 2017, Ryan was playing in his front yard with his siblings when his younger brother, Anderson, who has autism, wandered off. Anderson was found safe in a neighbor’s home, but Ryan has feared his brother would wander off again ever since.
Inspired by this moment, Ryan created Boomers, boxer briefs that save lives. The idea is to conceal a tiny GPS in a discrete location, underwear, a garment the children will always have on. Products like this exist in the form of bracelets and jewelry, clothing or backpacks, but these products are not used all hours of the day, every day of the year.
“I am hoping through this product I will be able to lower the injury and fatality rate of those children who elope,” said Ryan. “In addition, I hope to decrease the stress for the families and allow kids to have more independence.”
Ryan and Anderson’s mom, Liz Mescher, said this product is perfect for families like theirs.
“As a mom with a son who has special needs, this product is a real solution to a very real problem,” Mescher said. “Current solutions on the market have not been successful for our son. Living close to the water, we are always worried. These boxers provide families, like ours, with peace of mind that they have another way to keep their child safe.”
Boomers have a designated pocket to hold the GPS tracker. The tracker, called a Jiobit, will be linked to an app that can be downloaded to any phone. If an emergency occurs, the app will highlight the current location so that caregivers can locate the individual immediately. It allows caregivers to create a custom “geofence” and alert their phone when their loved ones wander too far from them, and the app also updates location in real time.
Ryan’s goal is to help as many families with ASD as possible with Boomers. At this time, Ryan is accepting applications for a free, one-year package, which includes five pairs of Boomers, a Jiobit tracker, and a one-year subscription.
The application is need-based and not based on income. The purpose is to ensure that the product will be used correctly. Eventually, Ryan would like to be able to provide the product to all families, but while the organization is growing, he is limited. In the next five years, Ryan is hoping to achieve just that.
“I hope to raise as much money as possible through fundraising, donations and grants so that I can get Boomers into the hands of as many families as possible,” said Ryan.
The goal of Boomers is to provide a 24/7 solution to caregivers of people with ASD who struggle with elopement and to eliminate the issue of elopement. Ryan is excited to build this organization.
“We are extremely proud of Ryan,” said Liz. “He has such a big heart and is very thoughtful. It is incredible to us that he thought of a solution to such a big problem and saw the idea through. He is not only helping our family but others as well.”
To learn more about Boomers, visit www.theboomers.org. You can also connect with Boomers on Facebook at @BoomersInc and Instagram at @boomers4autism. Ryan has filed a 501(c)(3), but as of early October, the status is still pending. He hopes to have it approved by the end of January 2022.