Find Bruce: Family desperate to find stuffed elephant with son's ashes inside

The search is on for "Bruce," a blue stuffed elephant with pink cheeks and a bright red heart on his chest. He contains the ashes of Liz and Ande Atkinson's late son Gabryel, who died – and before he had a chance to visit Walt Disney World in Florida.

Bruce was there to comfort Gabryel during his long hospital stays, mom Liz Atkinson wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend, which has now been shared more than 8,000 times.

"He slept with it every night and since his passing, my husband and I have had it in our bed with us," she wrote.


Photo credit: Liz Atkinson/Facebook

She told FOX 35 on Monday the family planned a 12-day trip with their surviving son to Florida and the "Most Magical Place on Earth," not only honor and remember Gabryel, but to celebrate his life –  a family vacation he was always supposed to be a part of.

Of course, Bruce went with them, she said.

"When we’re missing Gabryel, we can physically hold him because he was always with Gabryel, so it’s helped us a lot in the grieving process having him, and it just felt right bringing him on vacation because he’s never missed a trip ever," she told FOX 35.

The family went to Cocoa Beach, spent time in Kissimmee, Walt Disney World, Disney's Art of Animation, and Disney Springs the last two weeks in April.

Somewhere along the way, Bruce went missing.

"Because vehicles get messy on trips, I kept thinking maybe he was just mixed in somewhere (very unlike me, I know where everything is 100% of the time even on trips, thank you grief) but once we got home May 1 I searched EVERYWHERE. Every bag. He’s gone," she wrote. She said she'd called every hotel they stayed at, activity they did, and place they visited, but so far, Bruce hasn't been located," she wrote.

She's now hoping social media will help raise awareness for Bruce – and that someone may have found him. 

"There’s just a big piece of our family missing, and it’s silly. It’s just a stuffed animal, but it was Gabryel’s, and it just means a lot to us and I just want it back in my arms," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to send her a message on Facebook, she wrote.