Many people travel to the Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate magical moments — birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, graduations, etc. There are some people who visit Disney to remember and honor family members or friends who are no longer with them. One of those families is the Atkinson family. The Atkinson’s lost their young son Gabryel just over one year ago. They decided to visit Walt Disney World Resort with their surviving son, Sebastyan, to celebrate Gabryel’s birthday.
Sadly, while they were visiting the Sunshine State, something devastating happened to them.
According to Liz Atkinson, the family lost a treasured toy elephant that contained their son’s ashes. The toy elephant had been very important to their late son, having been by his side through more than 50 surgical procedures that were performed to try to save Gabryel’s life. The family wanted Gabryel to be with him, so they brought the toy to Florida.
Here is more on what Mrs. Atkinson believes may have happened to the elephant — named Bruce –, courtesy of KRON4 news:
“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 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.
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.
Atkinson said that she has called every location — including Disney’s Art of Animation Resort — the family went to in hopes that someone turned in Bruce the elephant. She also filled out a form that was filed with Disney’s lost and found department. Atkinson says that she is “sick” and “struggling to sleep”, worrying that the elephant won’t be found.
Atkinson and her family are begging anyone with any information to reach out to her on Facebook.