No matter how many dolls or stuffies a child might have, there is always that one special item that is irreplaceable. And when that beloved toy goes missing, it can be devastating for the child — and anxiety-inducing for the parents who will do anything to locate that lost toy.
Such was the case for parents Rudy and Celeste Dominguez. They were traveling with their family back to the U.S. from Indonesia. Traveling with young kids can be stressful and hectic, and so it’s no surprise that when they got off the plane for a layover in Japan, the Texas family accidentally left something behind on the plane.
Unfortunately, that something was their 9-year-old daughter’s best friend, Beatrice. Beatrice is an American Girl Truly Me Doll that was designed to look like Valentina.
It wasn’t until later that the Dominguez family realized that Beatrice had been left on the plane.
“We checked our bags to see if maybe she was in there but we all remembered seeing her on the plane so once we did the search, didn’t find her, we called the airline and then we sent an email to the airline looking for her,” Valentina’s father, Rudy, told “Good Morning America.”
In a last-ditch attempt, the family posted on Facebook asking for help. It was a long shot, but it paid off when a good samaritan who saw the post reached out to a neighbor who is a commercial pilot. American Airlines pilot James Danen, who flies out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, felt called on to help the family who lived just a short distance away from him.
After making a few phone calls, Danen was able to track down the doll at Turkish Airlines’s lost-and-found in Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Now, he just had to get the doll back to her rightful home in Plano.
Fortunately, the route to Tokyo is one Danen flies often. He even took photos with Beatrice on his flight home so he could keep the little girl updated on her doll’s progress.
You can watch the pilot reunite Valentina with Beatrice in this clip from “GMA” below:
“[Beatrice] means a lot to me. She brings me happiness and she’s my best friend,” Valentina told “GMA.” “When she was missing, when we got settled into our hotel, I felt very bad. I felt like my heart was broken.”
Danen says that reuniting Valentina with Beatrice was a feel-good moment.
“It’s my nature. I like helping people … that’s just what I like doing,” Danen told WFAA-TV. “I was really glad I could do something nice for somebody.”
As for her part, Valentina knows she needs to make it up to Beatrice.
“I knew Beatrice was going to be mad at me,” Valentina told “GMA.” “But I was happy that I get to see her again.”