South Shore Breaker
Strangers go the extra mile to reunite beloved toy with child
Lori-anne Tonne, who grew up in Bay de Verde, N.L., is among those touched by strangers who went the extra mile to make her young daughter smile again while turning a traumatic situation upside down.
“My daughter, Summer, at 18 months old, was given a plush pink bunny by her greatgrandmother before we moved to Kelowna, B.C.,” Tonne says. “We named the bunny Pinky and the two were inseparable. Summer slept with Pinky every night, and wherever we travelled, the bunny came too.”
Then, in the summer of
2018, while the family was in Halifax airport, during a hectic transfer to St. John’s, Pinky went missing.
“We boarded a flight that we didn’t think we would make. After the flight landed in St. John’s and our luggage was collected, we drove another three hours to my parent’s home. Only then, while unpacking, we began asking, ‘Where’s Pinky?’ And frantically retracing our steps.”
Tonne says her daughter was “devastated” to discover Pinky was gone.
What’s more, it began to sink in that Pinky had been left behind at one of the busiest airports in Atlantic Canada, which handled more than four million passengers that year, according to Statistics Canada.
“I immediately put a post out about Pinky on Facebook, hoping people would share the image in a bid to find the toy,” Tonne says.
Tonne’s social media post began to gain traction and get shared.
“A friend of mine, who was living in St. John’s then, shared the picture,” she says.
“One of her friends that worked for Air Canada in Halifax saw the image and decided to go on a hunt for the bunny.”
Through the whirlwind of people, Lindsay Meldrum located the bunny, sitting at the airport.
“It was incredible. Like, oh my goodness. I could not believe that Lindsay had found Pinky,” Tonne says.
“My daughter, nine years old at the time, was having sleepless, teary nights, worried about ever seeing her bunny again. I thought this was going to be a horrible vacation as a result. So, you cannot imagine the overall relief.”
But to get Pinky home would be no easy feat.
Meldrum was willing to go to great lengths to reunite the beloved toy with its owner.
“Pinky went on a wild adventure. I saw pictures of the toy being introduced to a police officer, meeting airport staff, including the pilots of the plane where Pinky got to fly first class,” Tonne recalls.
“Pinky was even pictured being served juice on the plane en route from Halifax to St. John’s airport.”
Tonne adds, “Everyone just ran with it to get Pinky back to us and put a smile on my daughter’s face amid the journey. The tremendous lengths strangers and even relatives went, especially Meldrum, who was instrumental in the reunion, and we cannot say enough how thankful we still are to them all.”
The moment Summer got to “hug” Pinky again brought tears of joy, says Tonne, who notes they celebrated with cake and chocolate for the heartfelt reunion after the marathon of a journey that involved a community of people.
Four years later, Summer still takes Pinky along on her many adventures, but this time, she keeps a watchful eye on the toy.
And as for Pinky, the toy is holding up well, says Tonne.
“Pinky has been under a couple of ‘surgeries’ over the years. I have added more stuffing, sewn some holes, but the bunny is irreplaceable.”
Tonne and Meldrum also kept in contact over the years.
“She is a friend of mine on Facebook, and we message back and forth. Lindsay has a little boy now, and I used to send her pictures of Pinky on special occasions, such as Halloween, just for fun,” Tonne says.
“But, of course, I told her if she ever wants to come to Kelowna with her family, she’s got a place to stay.”