Guitar Returned to Casper Family After Public Outpouring of Support
Robert Hammond was just scrolling through Facebook one day when he came across a news story about a family that was searching for a guitar their son had sold prior to his death. The guitar looked strangely familiar; so much so that showed the post to his wife.
Her breath caught and she immediately got goosebumps.
"My kids were actually playing that guitar on Christmas Eve," Melissa Hammond told K2 Radio News.
The guitar was her brother's. And she immediately knew what she had to do.
"My husband was like, 'Is this the same guitar as your brother's?'" she stated. "And I said it was. So I called him and he told me to reach out to Riley [Beckstead, the brother of the former owner of the guitar]. I ended up talking to Riley that night and then the next day, we met up with his dad."
For Todd Beckstead, the guitar meant so much more than just a simple instrument. It was a reminder of his son. It was a gift. It was a music box of memories. When his son, Kelly, died of liver failure due to alcohol addiction, there weren't very many things to remember him by. There were some pictures, sure. And there were all of the memories, of course. But Kelly didn't leave much behind when he passed. The guitar - that was something tangible. It was something Todd could hold; something he could pick up and play on those cold winter nights when he missed his son a little bit extra.
Todd knew that Kelly had sold the guitar, but he hoped against hope that maybe, somehow, he could get it back.
So he asked his children to make a Facebook post about it. They did, and they asked the community for their help in returning the guitar to the Beckstead family.
K2 Radio News picked up the story and it was shared hundreds of times by members of the community. We spoke with Riley Beckstead, and he told us the backstory of this special guitar, and what it mean to his family.
"He received a guitar from my parents, just before his graduation from high school," Riley said. "And it was one of his most prized possessions. He taught himself to play guitar with that guitar. I don't know exactly when he sold it, or who he sold it to, but my dad decided that he would like to have the guitar back if he possibly could."
In addition to the K2 story, Riley's Facebook post itself was shared hundreds of times. It seemed as though the entire community of Casper wanted to get this guitar back to the Beckstead family.
"I think it really speaks to the impact that my father and my family has had on the community," Riley said. "Everybody kind of knows what we've been going through, for multiple years now. And the amount of support that people have been giving us throughout this process - the whole time, much less this last week - has been extremely impressive. And it just makes me feel incredibly fortunate that we have this kind of community and that this many people love us and call us their own."
And that's when Melissa's husband came across the story. He told his wife, who told her brother, who immediately knew that he was going to give the guitar back to the family.
"I've had the guitar for a couple of years now," said Zach Spoon. "I bought it from a shop that used to be called Pawn King, down in Casper. My sister brought up to me what the situation was, and I was like 'Well, get ahold of people and see what they want to do about it. Because I'm willing to give them the guitar back.'"
Zach knew how important things like this were. He knew how much they were worth, not in terms of dollars and cents, but in sentiment and sacredness.
"My grandpa was a musician," Zach told K2 Radio News. "When he passed away, he left us three guitars. And if one of his guitars was missing and we were in the same boat, we would have wanted the same thing."
The chances of Zach purchasing the guitar from a local pawn shop, over two years ago, still having it, and still living in Casper aren't slim-to-none, but they're pretty close. There were a lot of little things that had to connect in order for Zach to be able to give the guitar back to the Beckstead family.
But that's exactly what happened, and when Todd was offered his boy's guitar, he couldn't hold back the tears.
"The father even verified that it was the exact guitar," Zach stated. "It had all the markings on the fret board and everything else. It was definitely the exact guitar. My wife says that I wear my heart on my sleeves. I try to do the right thing, for every reason. And I feel like it was kind of a blessing to be able to get something back to somebody that meant so much."
That's exactly what Zach did. And Todd and the rest of his family were eternally grateful.
"He bought it back from me, and he actually gave me another one of his guitars," Zach shared. "He's a musician himself, I came to find out. He's got a full studio in his house and everything else. He's got like 200 guitars hanging on the wall, and he actually gave me a Fender Stratocaster."
It was the least he could do, Todd thought, for the man who gave him a piece of his son back.
"Hopefully it will bring them a little bit of joy in their life, and allow them to make peace with everything, you know?" Zach said.
And it will. The guitar won't be able to bring back their son or their brother but, for the Beckstead family, having that piece of Kelly back meant the world.
After retrieving it from Zach, Todd took the guitar back to his house and showed it off to his family - to his wife, and his son Riley and his daughter Ashley. The family posed for a picture with the guitar and Todd said that he would hold onto it and never let it go - not until Kelly's children were old enough to play it. Then, it would be theirs.
He went to put it up but, before that, he looked across the room, at his family. They were all there, even Kelly. They sensed him. They felt him. So, Todd did the only thing he could think of. He sat down, picked up the guitar and started strumming.
"This one's for you," he thought. And he played one last song for his boy.