Missing Teddy Bear Reunited With Owner Thanks To Viral Social Media Post

The power of social media helped reunite a teddy bear that was found in a Wisconsin airport with its 5-year-old owner, Ezekiel Burnett, just over a month after the bear was initially found.

Posts shared on Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages asked if anyone knew the owner of the bear and quickly circulated. Officials with the airport later learned that the teddy bear that was found is one given to children who are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD).

According to the American Heart Association, CHD occurs when the heart, or blood vessels near the heart, do not develop "normally" before birth. Treatment may include surgery or heart catheterization.

Teddy Bear
An airport's social media posts went viral, which made it possible to reunite a found teddy bear with its owner. nastazia/iStock

"Anyone fly in or out of Milwaukee on January 4 and leave this little guy behind?" the first post about the teddy bear published on Facebook read, which was shared 12,000 times. "We've had him for a month now and he appears to be pretty well loved, so we're hoping his family is out there somewhere!"

Just a few days later, the airport shared additional photos thanking social media users for spreading the word about the teddy bear. The post noted that many commenters pointed out that the bear is given to children born with CHD.

"We recognize how special this bear must be to someone—so, we'd love to get him back home!" the follow-up post read.

Accompanying the caption were several photos of the bear in various locations around the airport, joined by Violet, a purple stuffed monkey that was found by airport officials in March 2020. The bear was pictured at one of the airport's eateries, in the seat of one of the planes and looking out of a window at the planes.

The American Heart Association noted that there are at least 18 distinct types of congenital heart defects, but progress in diagnosis and treatment have greatly helped those born with one.

"As diagnosis and treatment continue to advance, scientists will develop better treatments for these and other defects," the association stated.

Different treatment options are available, depending on the condition.

Less than one week after the first posts about the teddy bear were shared, the airport announced that the owner was located.

"We couldn't have done this without each of you helping to spread the word about a lost teddy bear at our Airport," the post, published on February 9, stated. "We can't wait to share more details about 'Teddy' as we work to reunite him with his family!"

Found Teddy Bear
An airport's viral social media posts helped reunite a lost teddy bear, pictured above, with its owner just after a month since it was turned in. Photo Courtesy of Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

A press release issued by the airport explained that while the family waited for their flight, Ezekiel accidentally tossed his bear into the rafters. The family needed to board shortly after and had to leave without the teddy bear. It wasn't until early January that someone came across the teddy bear and turned it in, which led to several posts created for social media.

A family member came across one of the viral social media posts, and the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and Southwest Airlines flew the family out for the reunion to take place on February 15.

"We are pleased that we were able to leverage the power of social media to reunite a child with his lost teddy, Christie Green, the airport's marketing coordinator, told Newsweek in an email. "Everybody likes a story with a happy ending!"