When his wife and three kids went shopping on Friday, Casey Lilley decided to follow a hunch.
That hunch eventually led him to The Eagle medallion in Dr. Glen Dey Park in northeast Wichita on Friday afternoon.
Lilley, who works for Spirit AeroSystems, has never owned a car costing more than $2,000. But finding the medallion earned him and his family The Eagle Medallion Hunt’s grand prize, a 2013 Subaru Impreza.
The second clue in the medallion hunt, printed in Friday’s Eagle, was the key to his discovery. It asked readers to “follow the lead of Henson and Peary,” so Lilley looked them up on his computer and discovered they had traveled to the North Pole on a ship called the Roosevelt; he figured that meant Roosevelt Street in east Wichita.
He thought the North Pole meant the medallion was on the north side of town. The clue also included the phrase, “no need to be teary.”
So he printed out a Google map of Roosevelt, ran out of the house and drove his 1996 GMC Jimmy to a cemetery on North Fountain, only to learn that it was on private property. The medallion always is placed on public property.
“I left there kind of discouraged,” Lilley said.
Then he had a hunch. He thought of nearby Dey Park because he often uses his metal detector there. The phrase “follow the arc” in the clue led Lilley to the center of the park’s playground, where there are arches for kids to play on.
Lilley said he then followed a wall around the west side of the park, saw a cutout on the ground at the base of the wall, lay down on the ground and spotted the medallion inside a hole on the underside of the wall.
“I just sprinted right to my car,” Lilley said. “Then I started shaking. I was like, ‘Is this happening?’ ”
He called his wife, Katie, who was still shopping with the children: Joaquin, 7; Avalin, 51/2; and Emery, 10 months.
“I was in shock. I could barely talk,” he said.
Lilley said he has looked for the medallion nearly every year since 1997, coming close a few times but never finding it. Until Friday.