Precious toy with son’s ashes in it lost during trip to Disney, family pleads for help

An Iowa mother made a post on Facebook on Saturday, May 6, asking for help finding a stuffed elephant that once belonged to her late son, Gabryel, and which held a small bag of his ashes in a pouch on its back. The family lost the toy on a visit to Walt Disney World, according to WFLA.

>> Read more trending news

Bruce, the elephant, is pale blue with a red heart in the middle of its chest. Liz Atkinson posted on Facebook that Gabryel was given the toy in the NICU and kept it with him through more than 50 surgeries and procedures before he passed away.

She said her son slept with the elephant every night until his passing and that she and her husband have kept it in their bed since.

“I feel sick. Struggling to sleep, and I’m desperate” she told CBS News.

Gabryel passed away last year from a chromosome 9 abnormality – a rare chromosomal disorder – just 16 days before his eighth birthday. This year on his birthday, they took their surviving son, Sebastyan, to Disney along with the toy elephant they used to remember Gabryel, she told CBS.

Atkinson said on her Facebook page that the family stayed at Beachside Resort in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on April 22-24. Sebastyan held the toy on the a boat when they took a trip with Cocoa Beach Parasailing at 9 a.m. on April 24. She added that her memory is hazy because of grief and emotions, but she does not remember Sebastyan bringing the elephant back to their vehicle.

She said on April 24 they continued on to Disney Springs where they stayed a couple of hours, then stayed at the Palazzo in Kissimmee until April 25 and doesn’t remember carrying the elephant from the vehicle to their hotel room. She said they did not pack the toy in the suitcase because of the parasailing trip, and made several trips to bring things into the hotel room because of a storm.

On April 25 they moved to the Art of Animation and stayed there April 30. Bruce, the elephant, was nowhere to be found. She said she has searched everything in the vehicle, but has not found the toy. She has called all the places they went and has filled out a lost and found form with Disney. So far, nobody has found him.

In an update, she said a man named Adam at the Cocoa Beach Marina helped them know that the toy made it to the car after parasailing and was not dropped in the parking lot there.

That narrows the search down to the orange parking ramp at Disney Springs; somewhere in the Palazzo; or if he made it to the hotel was possibly mixed into bedding that housekeeping changed.

She asks anyone who may have found Bruce or who knows of its whereabouts to please contact her via direct message on her Facebook page.