When 6-year-old Owen Lake left behind his favorite stuffed animal on a recent trip from Florida to Texas, his mom frantically called the airport to see if airport personnel could find it. Within a few hours, the staff at Tampa International Airport confirmed that they had the stuffed tiger and would keep him until the family returned from their trip. Like any good mom would do, Amanda Lake told her son that his beloved toy was on an "adventure," and that they would be reunited soon. Little did she know the scope of the tiger's escapades.
When Tony D'Auito, the airport operations center manager, heard about the little stuffed tiger called Hobbes, he decided to make the most of the toy's plight by taking Hobbes on a tour of the facility.
"Hobbes is one of a kind. He was made by hand by his aunt who lives in Houston," Lake told the Tampa Bay Times. Not surprisingly, Owen spent the better part of his trip to Texas worried about Hobbes. Amanda reassured Owen that Hobbes was just taking a little vacation of his own and that they would pick him up soon.
With the help of police, airport staff and other employees in the airport area, D'Auito snapped pictures of Hobbes on his epic adventure — surveying the area at the control tower, working behind the scenes at the control desk, hanging out with firefighters, and even delivering luggage at a nearby hotel.
D'Auito snapped all of the photos during his lunch hour, then dashed to the pharmacy where he printed out a hardcover photo book with captioned images of Hobbes' great adventure.
Upon their return from Texas, the Lake family's first stop was the Airport Operations Center lobby, where Owen hoped to be reunited with his beloved toy. Not only did he get Hobbes back, but he was also presented with the photo book of the stuffed tiger's hijinks while they were apart.
Amanda Lake cried when the airport staff presented Owen with the book.
“It was very, very sweet,” Lake said in an airport press release. “We already told him over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure so it was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”
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