Stuffy the Kitty Makes It Home

Social media and perseverance prevail in locating the child owner of a toy cat lost at Oshkosh.

Brayden and Stuffy reunited [Courtesy Ashley Eveleth]

(Cue Beethoven’s Ode to Joy)

We have an update on the story we brought you last week about the search for the owner of a stuffed animal found at EAA AirVenture 2023. The toy cat named “Stuffy” was returned to her owner today, 6-year-old Brayden Eveleth of Grandview, Iowa, opened the box in the back seat of his mother’s car and was reunited with the plush toy

Stuffy was accidentally left behind in the KidVenture zone of AirVenture late last month.

EAA volunteer Gary Sternberg posted a photograph of the plushy cat on Facebook on July 28 and the story went viral. Sternberg told FLYING that he knows these childhood attachment objects are very special to someone, so he takes a vested interest in their return to the owners.

As it turns out, this toy is extra, extra special, as it is a calming microwaveable stuffed animal. When heated, it gives off a lavender scent that is very soothing. It was also an early birthday gift to Eveleth, whose birthday fell during the AirVenture celebration.

According to Ashley Eveleth, Brayden's mother, the family loves aviation, and Brayden was looking forward to having his birthday at the show. He decided to bring the toy with him.

"He lost Stuffy on Monday the 24th while at KidVenture," she said. "He was building rockets and airplanes and had the toy with him, then he put it down and got up and forgot it."

When the family realized the toy was gone, they backtracked, checking all over KidVenture and walking the path they took to their campsite. But the beloved plush cat was nowhere to be found.

"Brayden cried all afternoon,” Ashley Eveleth said. “We went to the lost and found on the main ground and left our name and number just in case someone turned it in. Brayden was devastated all week because we couldn't find it."

EAA members, upon hearing about the wayward toy, spread the word online. Sternberg’s and FLYING magazine’s posts about the missing toy were copied and shared.

"Come on guys! Let's help this kitty get home!" one post read. The story and post were shared, and shared, and shared again, until contact was established and the Eveleths learned the toy had been turned in to lost and found—and become a media sensation.

Ashley said when she showed the image to Brayden he said: “‘That's my kitty!’ He was so ecstatic, he was crying tears of joy.”

Yellow Lot Bunny

Not all lost-and-found stories have such a quick or happy ending. Last year FLYING wrote about a toy plush bunny that was found in the Yellow Lot.

FLYING has learned the keeper of the bunny—(an EAA volunteer who asked to remain anonymous )—still has it. Here's to hoping the bunny gets back to its owner soon.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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