Eleanor Dewald, 8, and her family landed at Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport on Wednesday after a long day of travel to be home for the holidays. But when it was bedtime, she realized that she'd left her favorite stuffed bear named Teddy behind at the airport.
Eleanor had Teddy sine preschool, and according to her mom, Trish Dewald, they go everywhere together. "Teddy goes everywhere with Eleanor, so he occasionally ends up in a snowbank or under a car seat," Trish said. "But Teddy wasn't anywhere that Teddy would usually be."
They called the airline and filed a lost items claim, but they said the odds of finding Teddy would be slim. Trish instead decided to turn to Facebook, posting a picture of Teddy and wrote:
"How might one go about posting an amber alert for a missing Teddy? Last seen: Detroit Metro Airport North Terminal on 12/21/16 at 6:05pm. Looks similar to the one pictured though more....ahem...'loved.'"
Height: approximately 12"
Reward: 8 year old girl child's undying appreciation"
"If seen, contact parental units of said girl child.
Authorities (DTW lost and found/airline lost and found) have been notified. #operationteddy."
Eventually, the post was seen by Steven Laudeman, a ramp agent at the airport and former classmate of Trish. Before work, he tried lost and found, but couldn't find Teddy. So he retraced Eleanor's steps and found the bear perched on a trashcan.
Since Laudeman still had to work his shift, he couldn't return Teddy right away. So he decided to take Teddy on an adventure around the airport while he worked to reassure Eleanor that he was doing fine.
Laudeman told the Detroit Free Press that a few of his coworkers looked and him weird, but explained that "I have two little boys of my own. They would be so upset if they lost their stuffed animals. I understood."
Teddy even wrote a letter to Santa.
And made some new friends.
And after a long day, Teddy made it home.
Trish said that Laudeman is one of the kindest men she knows.
"So much time has passed and so many people come in and out of your lives, and to have someone stay in touch like this -- It's so meaningful to our family. That's how we got Teddy back."