Delta Airlines Finds and Returns Toddler's Doll That Looks Like Her Deployed Military Dad
It wasn’t just any old plaything that 1-year-old passenger Kenley left behind during a recent Delta flight.
On Thursday, the little girl’s mom, Arielle Britton, shared a plea on social media for airline and airport personnel to track down her daughter’s missing toy — a plush “Daddy Doll,” modeled after Kenley’s father, U.S. Marine Brian O’Connor.
Not only is the doll printed with a photo of the man in uniform, but it also has a “special good night” audio message that he recorded prior to his deployment.
“I go everywhere she goes because her dada is deployed,” Britton wrote on Facebook in the voice of the Daddy Doll. “We were traveling back home yesterday and I seemed to have gotten lost somewhere between the Hartford, Connecticut, airport and the Atlanta airport.”
She added: “I have a special good night message that Kenley’s dada recorded before he left, that she listens to every night. I also have red and blue stars on the back.”
The post went viral and employees were able to track down the doll after a cleaning crew found it still aboard their flight. Once Delta secured the doll, they decided to return it to Kenley in person.
“We found your doll, Kenley! He’s missed you, but don’t worry. We’re bringing him home. ,” wrote Delta on Twitter, sharing a photo of the doll strapped in aboard a plane on its way to the girl.
When the doll was returned by Delta employees to Kenley at the Savannah Airport — along with a few other gifts from the airline — she hugged the meaningful doll and FaceTimed with her father.
“Mission accomplished! Kenley and her doll are together again,” Delta wrote alongside photos of the happy reunion.
A spokesperson for the airline told USA Today they are “happy” to have been “able to work together to return this special doll to Kenley.”
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In a video on Facebook, Britton revealed that if she had needed to order a replacement, it would have taken two to three months to get a recorder to O’Connor during his deployment and manufacture a new doll.
According to the Daddy Doll website, the company has been selling this unique product since 2005, helping children feel closer to long-distance loved ones. Aside from military families, the dolls are also meant for the children of parents who travel for business, are hospitalized or become incarcerated, among other scenarios.
“Daddy Doll is back home safe and sound and @delta not only showed up, but they showed out! They made sure Daddy doll got home ASAP and brought some Delta swag for Kenley, including her favorite @lotusbiscoffus cookies! Which helped her learn a new word, she now says cookie ,” Britton wrote on Sunday.
She added: “We are still so humbled by everyone who helped and everything that was done to make this happen so quickly! “