A young toddler takes the loss of their favorite stuffed animal very seriously, and for some, it can be a bit of a traumatizing experience. When five-year-old Luisa Kercheval lost her stuffed raccoon, "Baby," she thought he was going to be gone forever. But her mom, Leah Cole, wasn't about to let that happen: she posted about Baby on Facebook, and the response was overwhelming.
For Luisa, who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Baby isn't just a toy, he's a support system. Ever since she was a baby, Luisa has kept Baby close, and he's continued to stay by her side through all of her tough chemotherapy treatments and hospital stays. Baby went missing after one of Luisa's chemo treatments at Riley Children's Hospital in Indiana, and Luisa was devastated.
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Luisa wasn't even just upset for herself; she felt like she had let Baby down. Cole told Riley Children's Health, "She was worried that he was without her, that he was lonely. She asked me, 'What if he doesn't love me anymore because I lost him?'"
For Cole, contemplating a life without Baby just wasn't an option. She enlisted the help of nurses and staff at Riley, but unfortunately, their search came up empty-handed, and the raccoon was nowhere to be found. So, Cole did the next best thing she could think of: she turned to social media for help.
Courtesy Kercheval Family The original "Baby"
In the Facebook post, Cole pleaded for help, writing, "Baby has gone missing and it is not good around here! We had him at Riley Friday—Luisa likes to have him for her procedures.. and I remember putting him in our bag to come home, but he's not been seen since."
She added, "I know it's just a stuffed toy, but 'her baby is without her' and she is DISTRAUGHT... it's been a L O N G 48 hours folks. I'm just praying we find him, or we can find another baby just like it, somewhere!" Buying an identical raccoon to pass off as Baby didn't seem possible either—Cole explained that it was "a 10" Carter's Baby plush raccoon circa 2011 or 2012."
The response to Cole's post was immediate and incredibly generous. According to a press release, people from all over the country reacted by sharing the post, commenting on it, and even sending stuffed animals to the family. One family in particular, from Nashville, Tennessee, discovered that they were in possession of the same stuffed raccoon. Despite the fact that they did not know the Kerchevals, they didn't hesitate to send their well-loved version of Baby to the family.
Courtesy Kercheval Family The new "Baby"
Cole was thrilled to see the resemblance but unsure about how to explain the situation to Luisa, as she didn't want to further upset her daughter or lie to her. In the end, Cole told Riley Children's Health that she cleaned it up and gave it to Luisa, explaining that Baby had gone on a little adventure, stopping in Texas and Tennessee. Luisa happily accepted Baby as her own, telling her mom, "I'm going to take better care of him. I just missed him so much."
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The Kercheval family has been touched by the outpouring of love they received from strangers online through the whole experience, and they have decided to donate the other stuffed animals they received to Riley Children's Health for other kids undergoing medical care. Cold said, "There's just something about kids that strikes people's hearts." This is definitely the kind of story that gives you hope!
Cole also used the upsetting experience as a lesson for Luisa. She explained, "We try to teach our kids, especially with the (leukemia) diagnosis, that sometimes things don't happen the way we want them to and they don't work out the way we think they should, but that it can still be OK." We're just happy to hear that, in this case, it turned out more than OK for Luisa.