Grady Reid of Olathe was driving through the busy intersection of 121st and Blue Valley Parkway on July 4 when he noticed something odd in the opposite lane. He turned his car around, and as if the tides had parted, there were no cars behind him.
He managed to stop, pick up a stuffed monkey and bring it home — beginning his quest to find the toy’s owner.
“He was in rough shape,” said the father of one and television cameraman for a local station. “This belongs to someone, but I didn’t have any grand ideas about how to broadcast it.”
To the rescue: Social media.
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“First thing I did was take a picture and put it on my Facebook page. Then I called work, and asked our web producer if they could put it out there. That same day they it was on their station’s Twitter feed,” Reid said.
Within 24 hours, he watched the infectious story grow as nearly 15,000 shares were made on Facebook from the funny half-dozen photos he posted. Reid said he couldn’t figure out how many people saw it on Twitter, but that “it was fun watching it all day retweeting and retweeting.”
Reid empathized with the thought of child missing his or her loved one.
“I have a kid. So as a parent, we’ve all been through that — lost something close to us. My kid left something behind in a restaurant once and we’ve gone back to get it. I think every parent has done that.”
That’s why Reid has not given up the fight. Even though the little chimp still hasn’t found his buddy, there have been several good leads.
Three days later, a woman contacted Reid saying the photos on Facebook looked like her daughter’s stuffed monkey who had been lost for four years. She claimed their monkey had extra markings where the girl’s grandmother had added extra stitch work.
Reid was on his way home from working a night shift when her text came through.
“I was pulled over in a strip mall at midnight, texting pictures of the monkey’s ear and tail,” he said.
The woman said the grandmother could meet him right then. And since she had done the stitching, the grandmother would recognize it better.
“Now I’m meeting old ladies in parks and looking at stitch work,” Reid said laughing. Alas it was not hers.
Manuel Cantu of Olathe also saw the Facebook photo and sent a text to his 12-year-old daughter, joking that the lost monkey online resembled her stuffed pal, George.
Little did he know that George was missing. A few weeks prior, Cantu’s daughter had gone to Worlds of Fun and then over to a friend’s house for a sleepover. Some time in that stretch of time is when she lost it.
“I bought it when she was born,” said Cantu. “It was 2003.”
This was the missing link to squash their hope of reuniting. Reid noticed the date of production on the missing monkey manufactured by Ty, Inc. was 2009. Sadly, there was no way that it could be George.
“Even down to the missing eye,” said Cantu. Both the monkey on the street and Cantu’s daughter’s buddy had lost the same left black-buttoned eye.
So the search for the owner continues.
“If no one comes forward, maybe my daughter could adopt it,” Cantu said.
On the Web
For more information: facebook.com/grady.reid