TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A family says they are in desperate need of help after losing their precious toy elephant while visiting Disney World last week.
On Saturday, Iowa resident Liz Atkinson made a post on Facebook asking for help after losing a stuffed elephant that once belonged to her late son Gabryel.
Atkinson said the elephant, named Bruce, was given to her son when he was in the NICU and was with him for over 50 surgical procedures that were done to save his life. Unfortunately, Gabryel did not survive.
“He slept with it every night and since his passing my husband and I have had it in our bed with us,” Atkinson said.
To honor their son’s memory, the Atkinson family took their surviving son, Sebastyan, to Disney World on Gabryel’s birthday.
“Bruce, of course, was brought on our trip and a small bag of our son’s ashes were inside the pouch on Bruce’s back,” she wrote. “The trip was a bit hectic with 3 different cities and hotels and grief brain kicked in at some point with all of the emotions, making me really struggle with simple memory tasks.”
According to Atkinson, the family was first at the Beachside Resort in Cocoa Beach, Florida from April 22 to April 24. During that time, the family went parasailing, with Sebastyan holding Bruce on the trip.
“This is where the trip gets hazy in my memory due to emotions and grief,” Atkinson said. “Thinking back, I don’t recall Sebastyan bringing him back to our vehicle.”
She said that they spent some time at Disney Springs on April 24 and then the Palazzo in Kissimmee until April 25.
Atkinson said she did not recall carrying the stuffed elephant to the hotel, and while it would usually be packed in a suitcase, the toy was not packed due to the parasailing trip.
By the time the family checked into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort on April 25, they noticed Bruce was nowhere to be found. They remained there on April 30.
“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,” she wrote. “Every bag. He’s gone.”
Atkinson said she called every location her family visited and filed a lost and found form for Disney, but Bruce is still nowhere to be found.
“I feel sick, struggling to sleep. I’m desperate,” she said.
Atkinson said she believes the elephant could be in the parking lot near Cocoa Beach Parasailing, the Palazzo, or the orange parking ramp of Disney Springs, probably after falling out of the car.
“I never in a million years would’ve thought that struggling with grief would have impaired my memory enough to forget him somewhere, and I tried very hard to make sure he was always in a bag or in my arms so this didn’t happen,” she said.
Atkinson told Nexstar’s WFLA that anyone with information on the elephant’s whereabouts can message her on Facebook.