Toby the teddy bear isn’t just any old stuffed animal to Brooklyn Andrews.
He’s a cherished link to a father who died far too young.
“She’s slept with it every night since she got it when she was 3 years old,” says her mother, Marsha Andrews, 39, of Chunchula, Ala.
It even has a special message in it recorded from her father, Tony Andrews, a police officer who died of a heart attack on duty in 2006.
“She presses the button every night before she goes to bed and listens to her daddy,” says Marsha.
So when the 14-year-old girl lost him on a visit to Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa last month, she was devastated.
After we got home “we were unpacking,” says Marsha. “And Brooklyn said, ‘Where’s Toby?’ She was freaking out.”
Luckily, Mom saved the day. When a phone call to the resort didn’t yield any results, she took to social media.
“Very special bear (Toby) is lost!!” wrote Marsha on January 15. “Toby was given to the little girl by her by her daddy before he left for Iraq with his voice recorded in the bear telling her how much he loves her.”
Marsha also belongs to a Facebook group for spouses of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
“I posted in there for them to pray,” she says. “They were sharing it everywhere.”
That posting somehow caught the eye of a Disney employee who called two days later to say they found Toby.
“Brooklyn was ecstatic,” she says. “She was jumping up and down.”
Disney not only found the bear, they sent him on a fun-filled day around the park before shipping him home with photographs of his adventures.
“She loved it,” says Marsha of the photos. “She said the next time she goes to Disney she’s going to take him to the park with her and get more pictures.”
The whole experience has been amazing, says Marsha.
“I was shocked how much people cared,” she says.
“You’d think people would say, ‘He’s just a bear.’ But he’s not just a bear to us – and especially to her.”