Social media post helps reunite little girl with missing "Daddy Doll"
The lost-and-found bins of the world sometimes hold treasures you can't put a price on, especially when the value lies in the lengths people will go to bring them home.
Arielle Britton learned this last week while traveling with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Kenley.
Her husband, Brian Britton, is deployed with the military overseas.
So while he's gone, Kenley holds tight to her "Daddy Doll," a small doll with a picture of her dad and a goodnight voice message.
“And he taped a goodnight message because bedtime is their thing together, so that she could listen to it every night," she said. "And that’s what it’s been for her. It’s been a soothing mechanism. She is only one-and-a-half, so she doesn’t quite understand where Dada is, or why he’s not back.”
Britton, who grew up in Roanoke and was once crowned Miss Virginia, had to move her family to South Carolina in recent years for her husband's military career. Daddy Doll helps at bedtime, when Brian is far from home.
"She’ll reach into her crib and pull him out of the slats just so she can listen to him," she said. "So it’s pretty cute.”
But last week, Daddy Doll went on an adventure himself. While Arielle and Kenley were flying from New England to Atlanta, he disappeared.
“We only had 20 minutes to run from one plane to the next. And when we sat down on the next plane, I looked in the bag and my heart sank immediately," Britton recalled.
She reached out to a Delta Airlines attendant immediately, but then took to social media for help, too. Reaching out to friends, family and flight attendants in her friends list, she asked for help bringing him home - thinking the chance he'd return was smaller than the doll itself.
But then, her post took off.
"It was probably around 100 shares, I was like, 'Mom can you believe what is happening right now!'” she said.
By Monday, the post was shared more than 4,000 times.
Her post Thursday led to a message from Delta Friday: The doll had been found and was being flown to Charleston, South Carolina for Britton to pick up Saturday.
“It was just, it was insane how quickly it spread and then how quickly Delta grabbed onto it and jumped into action," Britton said.
The reunion Saturday was followed by a night with Daddy Doll back in Kenley's arms. It left Britton and her family feeling that the community had wrapped their arms around them, too.
“Honestly, this was a huge positive experience mentally for me," Birtton said. "Deployments are not easy, regardless how short or long or where your spouse is deployed to. And this just gave me such a huge sense of support from the community. And it’s easy for people to tell you, 'Oh, you have such a great support system.' But to see it, and not just from my support system but from strangers, is an incredible feeling when I’m at home and I feel alone.”