OK, forget about all of the Cute you’ve seen today. Push that YouTube video of the Corgis out of your head and ignore the picture of your niece’s first birthday, because this tops everything. A 6-year-old boy named Owen Lake had just boarded a flight to Houston when he realized that he’d somehow lost his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, in the Tampa International Airport. The boy’s mother called the airport as soon as the family landed in Texas and, thankfully, learned that Hobbes had been found and would be waiting for them when they returned to Florida.
But while Owen was gone, Hobbes got to have a miniature vacation of his own, thanks to Tony D’Aiuto, a manager at the Airport Operations Center. D’Aiuto had recently seen a news story about a stuffed lion that was taken on a museum tour, and that gave him the wonderful idea to do something similarly special for Hobbes. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity,” D’Aiuto said.
D’Aiuto spent his next couple of lunch hours photographing Hobbes at various locations around the airport, being given some behind-the-scenes tours and even some hands-on (or paws-on) training from the other employees. Hobbes ordered gelato, delivered luggage at the airport Marriott, worked out in the employee gym and was carried around by the Southwest ground crew.
The huge-hearted D’Aiuto then wrote a short story to explain Hobbes’ activities and used a coupon to have the photos all printed and bound into a hardback book at a local Walgreens. He then delivered the book and Hobbes to the airport’s Lost and Found, so they’d both be waiting when Owen and his family returned on June 11. It was a huge hit. Owen’s mother, Amanda, said she cried when James Parker from the Airport Operations Center gave her son the book. She said:.
It was very, very sweet. 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. It was such a nice surprise.
And it’ll be a long time before something out-cutes Tony D’Aiuto and his big plans for a little tiger.