Jaguar Leadership Corps helps comfort Paige Stucky after she lost her stuffed-animal named Bunny

After losing her stuffed-animal, Paige’s spirits were lifted by a package from JLC

Leah Dresvyannikov, JagWire reporter/photographer

After visiting Mill Valley High School to support their nephews who were playing football Saturday Oct. 15, the Stucky family left the school’s premises in celebration of their nephews’ team winning. Their feelings of joy were diminished when they later realized that they left something behind that day- their five-year-old daughter’s stuffed animal named Bunny. 

The Stucky family recently went on their annual family getaway trip and traveled to Lawrence to celebrate Kansas Men’s Basketball ‘Late Night in the Phog’ and support them in their 2022 National Championship, Friday Oct. 14. They had also planned to, while in the area, visit with family and support their nephews playing football. 

Throughout most of the trip, Paige Stucky- daughter of Emilee Stucky, was accompanied by her stuffed animal which she called Bunny. She and her twin sister were given identical stuffed white bunnies from their grandmother while Emilee endured a difficult pregnancy with them. Paige grew up holding Bunny dearly to her heart, taking her almost everywhere she went. 

“Bunny stole my Paige’s heart especially and even more as [Paige] aged,” Emilee said in one of her recent Instagram posts. “Bunny went almost everywhere with Paige, although we were always extremely careful to not let Paige take her too many places in public, in fear of losing her.”

After the game, the family headed to Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant for lunch. They eventually ended up saying their goodbyes to family and hitting the road back home, having yet to realize they did not have Paige’s stuffed animal with them. 

“About 45 minutes out of Olathe, Paige realized Bunny was not with her in the van,” Emilee clarified via email. “We pulled over at an exit off of the highway, searched the entire van, only to discover that Bunny was nowhere with us.” 

At that point, the family was already too far out of Olathe to turn around leaving Paige devastated over the loss of Bunny. She begged for her parents to call the police, in hopes that the “good guys” would find Bunny. The family did not call the police, but they did ask the extended family to look around the area. Heartbroken from seeing her girl sad, Emilee reached out to the various locations they had been at, including Mill Valley. 

“Marilyn Chrisler, who I would later realize was the Associate Principal at Mill Valley High School, returned my email later that morning asking for more details on where we though Bunny might be on their premises and promised me she had a group of kids that were going to search the parking lot for Bunny,” Emilee said in a following post. 

Three different classes went out at separate times and searched outside for the bunny, however Bunny was nowhere to be found on the school premises. A sliver of hope that they might find Bunny lingered, but Emilee realized that it was probably hopeless to continue the search. After learning about the situation that Chrisler forwarded to them, Jaguar Leadership Council took matters into their own hands and designed a little care package for Paige.  

JLC leader and FACS teacher Lauren Stringer was sad to learn that Paige had lost Bunny.

“We had been talking about networking and building relationships and communication in class, and so we thought that this might be a great opportunity for us to [apply this to the real world] not necessarily as a project, but in a way to help her out,” Stringer said.

As many of the students in JLC grew up with their own stuffed animals, the students felt empathetic. One class period they talked about the stuffed animals they had as kids and wrote Paige letters about how meaningful these companions were for them. One such student was senior Alison Sul.

“It was something we all were really touched by, and the fact that we had plushies growing up gave this situation more meaning to us,” Sul said. 

Their care package consisted of these letters, as well as a pair of Mill Valley t-shirts, bracelets, and two new stuffed animals for the girls. Paige received a brand new stuffed animal bunny and her sister received a stuffed-animal jaguar, so that both girls felt included. 

“[Paige] lit up with delight when she opened the box and discovered the sweetest new Bunny, a stuffed Jaguar for her sister Morgan, a pair of Mill-Valley t-shirts just their size and pink bracelets,” Emilee said. “Bunny quickly was named Millie by Paige [in honor of Mill Valley].” 

Emilee decided to post about this ordeal on her Instagram @emileestucky and made similar posts on Facebook as a way of telling how they were touched by the kindness of others. As a result of everyone’s responses and sharing of posts, Emilee’s story was able to reach Tara Hovey- who found Bunny a few days ago. 

“Tara told me she and her son were at Mill Valley’s parking lot on that Saturday, Oct. 15,” Emilee said via email. “ [Tara spotted Bunny laying on the ground as she was backing up] and when she looked at it, she knew it must have been a special bunny, as it was very much worn and loved.” 

Emilee’s sister-in-law, Molly Stucky, will be meeting with Tara Saturday Nov. 19 to bring Bunny back to Paige. As Paige anxiously awaits Bunny’s arrival, Emilee describes her feelings of gratitude over email, reflecting on what this situation has taught her family.

“[It is] a very humbling feeling: when something that feels so trivial and silly to be sad about, yet people show up to show you that they care about that trivial thing, because they care about you,” Emilee mentioned via email. “And when those people are people who do not know you, but they are showing up to help regardless, well, that just flat out restores one’s faith in humanity.”

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