Kevin Wallevand, WDAY, Published April 09 2013
VIDEO: Casselton boy is reunited with late father's shirt
When a Casselton family flew to sunny San Diego for a quick getaway a few days ago, a "much-treasured" piece of clothing was left behind on a Delta plane in California.
But it wasn't a baby blanket, or expensive designer coat. It was "Daddy's Shirt."
Cole Holzer and this well-worn Nike shirt are inseperable. It is the one reminder, the last reminder of his father, that he clings to.
Cole Holzer: “'Cause it reminds me of my dad.”
Tonya Holzer, Cole’s mom: “Ever since, he will lay out and spray his dad's cologne on it and cuddle up with it and sing the daddy song to go to bed.”
Tonya's husband, Brian, died tragically two years ago following a freak accident after he fell while putting up Christmas lights.
This was the shirt he was wearing when he fell.
At the hospital, Cole, like his mom and siblings, was inconsolable. Devastated.
Tonya: “Cole - for some reason - he was in the car, said he was not going until he got his dad's shirt and so I went back up and grabbed the shirt for him.”
And so, just days ago, Tonya and the three kids flew to California. On the flight, as usual, Cole, a Casselton first-grader, hung on to his "Daddy Shirt." But in the rush to leave the plane, the shirt was left behind.
Tonya: “We get in the car and we are on the interstate and I am not trying to crash and he suddenly screams 'I lost it, I can't find it, I can't find it.' ”
That is when Tonya's friend Kelly Cruchet stepped in. Working the phones and the computer, she pleaded with Delta to try to locate the shirt.
Kelly Cruchet- friend of Holzer family: “I started by calling the Delta 800 number and I tried to keep my composure. I am pretty emotional. I cried; the lady on the other end cried.”
From pilots to ground crews to ticket agents, Delta put out the word. Find the Daddy Shirt.
Kelly: “She was very emotional, and she said we are going to pull the garbage; we have ground crews looking through the garbage. And I am going to help.”
Then, a phone call from Delta.
Kelly: “She said, 'Kelly, we found it.' They found it; they looked through the garbage and found it. I cried some more. I started crying, Cole started crying.”
For Cole, the shirt is everything. A piece of the past, part of his dad he cuddles with on the couch and bedtime.
Cole: "I was really happy because I liked it so much."
Tattered, torn, Daddy's Shirt is back home, in the arms of the 7-year-old who needs it most. They gave a piece of his dad back to him.
Late today, Delta Airlines out of Atlanta told WDAY 6 News, "Efforts made to reunite this very special shirt with Cole and his family is another fantastic example of Delta people going above and beyond for our customers."