A mother is “desperate” to find a priceless stuffed animal that became separated from her family while they were on vacation in Walt Disney World last month.
The stuffed elephant named Bruce is like no other because it contains the ashes of eight-year-old Gabryel Atkinson. Gabryel died in April 2022.
The toy had been by Gabryel’s side his entire life from the NICU to “every surgery/procedure (over 50) and hospitalization (too many to count),” and ever since his passing the boy’s parents have kept Bruce by their side.
But during a family trip to Disney in honor of Gabryel’s birthday, Bruce went missing. Now the family is pleading for help.
Liz Atkinson, who lives in Iowa, shared an emotional post on Facebook asking friends, family, and strangers to get the word out.
“I am completely desperate and hoping this blows up and we find our elephant!”
The Iowa mom described the trip as “a bit hectic” due to traveling to three cities in Florida and “grief brain.”
She explained that on April 24 while the family went parasailing in Cocoa Beach, their youngest son Sebastyan held onto Bruce.
“This is where the trip gets hazy in my memory due to emotions and grief. Thinking back, I don’t recall Sebastyan bringing him back to our vehicle.”
It wouldn’t be until much later when she would receive confirmation that Bruce made it off the boat and wasn’t dropped in the parking lot of the marina.
Lost at Disney?
Following their stay on the Space Coast, the Atkinsons drove to Walt Disney World. Their first stop was Disney Springs, followed by a hotel in Kissimmee where they stayed the night before checking into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort on April 25.
Bruce did not make another appearance during the remainder of the trip, but Liz wasn’t completely concerned about his whereabouts at the time. She was sure he was somewhere.
“Because vehicles get messy on trips, I kept thinking maybe he was just mixed in somewhere (very unlike me, I know where everything is 100% of the time even on trips, thank you grief) but once we got home May 1 I searched EVERYWHERE. Every bag. He’s gone.”
She’s contacted the hotels her family stayed at and filled out a lost and found form with Disney, and now she’s pleading with the public asking for their help.
“I feel sick, struggling to sleep. I’m desperate.”
The family believes Bruce accidentally fell out of the car either at the Palazzo or the Orange parking ramp at Disney Springs.
Liz has asked anyone with any information to contact her on Facebook.
Please keep any eye out for Bruce! Let’s help reunite this precious stuffed animal with its family.
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