Ready for a heartbreaking story? It’s a rough one, but there are definitely some silver linings.
Last week, Justin and Kari Ihle traveled with their three kids (Peyton, William and Grace) from Minnesota to Arizona and Texas for spring break. Things turned sour when 10-year-old William lost his Eeyore doll.
Now you might be thinking, “Big whoop. Kids lose their dolls all the time.”
But Eeyore is special. Here’s why
William has a genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis complex that causes benign tumors to form in his organs. He was born with 12 tumors in his brain, one of which caused seizures, so life hasn’t been the easiest. But Eeyore was always there.
“I can’t believe I’m crying about this Eeyore,” Kari told All the Moms, “but when William was 4 1/2, he had brain surgery.”
The two grid-resection surgeries were to help stop his seizures, and since then he’s done very well, she said.
But the experience was terrifying for her and her husband, and neither she nor Justin could go with William into the operating room.
“Eeyore was allowed to go with. Eeyore was able to go in the operating room with William, and he was able to hold Eeyore before going to sleep,” Kari said.
William has been without Eeyore for almost a week now
William’s 8-year-old sister Grace first noticed Eeyore was missing on April 3 or 4, Kari said.
The family traveled that day from Phoenix to Minnesota and then to Dallas.
Kari said it didn’t quite sink in for William until a few days later when they headed back to the Dallas airport to go home. Since then, it’s been tough on him.
“He’s really upset,” she said. “He’ll say, ‘I want my buddy. I miss him.’ “
Kari said the family likely lost Eeyore in the Phoenix, Dallas or Minnesota airport. The family has filed automated claims with each airport but has not heard back.
Dozens of new Eeyores to choose from
Since the story has spread, Kari said people have been sending or requesting to send William their own Eeyore dolls to replace the one he lost.
“It’s so sweet,” she said. She doesn’t want to reject the kindnesses, so she, William and Justin decided that the family will take all the Eeyore dolls to the hospital where William underwent surgery and distribute them to children in need.
Hurricane Irma Eeyore will visit William temporarily
One woman on Facebook, Martha Durant, offered to temporarily send William an Eeyore doll she found in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Martha runs a Facebook group called”Finding Eeyore’s Way Home” and she has appeared on TV multiple times in attempts to find Eeyore’s original owner.
Kari said Martha is hosting a “going away” party for the Hurricane Irma Eeyore and will send it to visit William after that.
A sappy, sweet ending from a sour situation
“William’s not a typical kid. He doesn’t have a ton of friends,” Kari said, adding that her son goes to a school for children with special needs and is seen by many as “quirky” and different.
Yeah, he plays basketball around the neighborhood and video games with a few friends. But in general, he’s gone through a lot.
The fact that he’s received so much support from so many strangers is something Kari hopes will boost his confidence. “This is going to be amazing for him to see,” she said.
Eeyore’s last good deed: TSC awareness
If Eeyore does not make his return, his last good deed will have been spreading awareness of William’s condition, Kari said.
Tuberous sclerosis complex is a rare condition affecting about 1 in every 6,000 people. It’s very common for people who have TSC to also be diagnosed with autism or epilepsy.
Though William’s seizures are gone, Kari said he’ll visit doctors about once a month for the rest of his life.
Think you found Eeyore?
Snap a picture and use the hashtag #OperationsLetsFindEeyore and tag his mother, Kari Ihle! Or comment on her Facebook post here.