It was clear that he had desperation in his eyes, she could see tears start to trick down his cheek as he begged them. They didn’t seem to care very much and she finally gave up. He went to the bin and threw it away.
She had seen the entire thing unfold from a distance. She couldn’t help but get closer, but then she realized what the man had put in the bin, she couldn’t believe it.
Florida native, Ivelise Hernandez, arrived with her boyfriend at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport. But she had no idea she’d soon see something that she could never have prepared for.
She was going to Pennsylvania, her boyfriend agreed that he would escort her to the flight but then they suddenly saw something odd while waiting in the security line.
The Transportation Security Authority (TSA) inspected every bag that went through while Ivelise and Rico Bankston, her boyfriend, waited in the line for their turn. Then a problem arose.
It was moving along rather slowly, way more slowly than usual. It was because a problem had occurred up ahead that they weren’t aware of yet.
A man was grabbed from the line by the TSA and they began interrogated him for information. Ivelise and Rico were close enough to hear what they said to him.
There was apparently something going on with his bag. They wouldn’t let him go any further before questioning him. Things felt tense, what was going on?
After September 11, 2001, the TSA wasn’t going to take any chances and looked in all carry-on bags that were going to be brought into the plane. Anything even remotely bad would be destroyed by security.
This was frustrating for tourists and locals alike. They would become angry when common things like toothpaste were confiscated. This man had something very different.
The couple watched security officers get more riled up by the minute while they talked to the man they took out of line. No matter what they said, he wouldn’t give them his parcel. What was it?
The man was sweating, visibly agitated by their request. He begged the officers to let him keep it but they had zero tolerance. Nothing he said mattered.
He tried to get the package sent to the lost and found, just so it wouldn’t be destroyed. But the guards shook their heads. They wanted him to throw it in the trash, tears started rolling down his cheek.
Ivelise and Rico couldn’t believe what they were witnessing, they knew what had to be done.
He couldn’t it bring with him so with a sigh, he walked over to the bin and slowly placed the package inside. He hung his head as he walked back to the checkpoint.
This made Ivelise nervous, Rico now had to leave her and she would be scrutinized but the TSA, just like the man before them. But she wanted to do something first.
She still had a bad feeling about everything. She would go through the checkpoint alone but first, she’d have something to say.
She wanted Rico to check out the bin and see what the strange parcel was. She needed to know if it was something dear to the man’s heart as it had appeared to be.
Rico went back to the trash bin and retrieved the man’s package. Then, he left the airport and drove back to Tampa. Ivelise, meanwhile, couldn’t stop thinking about how badly the TSA had treated the man. But she also desperately wanted to know what was inside the box.
As soon as she reached her destination, she scrambled to turn her phone back on and immediately called Rico.
Rico had unwrapped the package but was surprised to find that its contents were rather underwhelming. At first glance, the object in question didn’t seem like something that would raise a red flag with the airport security.
He lifted the weighty souvenir out of its box and turned it over in his hands. But when he flipped it over, he realized just how valuable it was.
What had looked like a meaningless trinket was actually something much more. Rico now understood why the man at the airport had teared up when he was made to toss it in the trash.
He shook it gently and watched the flurry of glitter swirl around. It was a glass snowglobe, and there were two photographs inside.
The photograph was of a little girl, and the other side was a photo of an elderly couple. Underneath the globe was an engraving that read: “We love you, Katie. Nana and Papa 1/25/16.”
When Ivelise heard what was in the mysterious package, she began to tear up, too. But she knew exactly what she had to do.
When Ivelise came back from her trip, she had already decided that she wasn’t just going to discard the snowglobe. It had clearly meant so much to the man who had been forced to part with it, so Ivelise came up with a plan.
She knew that tracking down the family wouldn’t be easy, but they had to try.
With nothing to go on except that the man had been at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport that day, Ivelise decided to take to social media to try and find the family. She posted pictures of the snowglobe and begged all her friends to share them far and wide.
But Ivelise never imagined that the post would quickly take on a life of its own.
Ivelise went to bed after posting the photos on social media. Her trip and her constant worry over the snow globe’s owner had taken a toll on her.
She had dinner with her boyfriend, freshened up, and climbed into bed. Little did she know that her post was gaining traction on social media. Her wish would soon be granted.
Some hours past midnight, Ivelise woke up to a vibrating phone. The gadget was almost falling off her nightstand, with notifications streaming in constantly.
“It was louder than my morning alarm,” she reported, stating that the vibrating sound wrenched her from sleep. Not knowing what to expect, she reached out for it, turning it on. What she saw made her freeze in place.
Hundreds of notifications stared at Ivelise, with more still coming in. She logged into her social media account and started scrolling through the comments, likes, and share notifications.
Most of the people on her page were commending her for trying to help the man get his snow globe back. But other commenters had other ideas.
Among the many comments thanking Ivelise for her kindheartedness were a few affirming that they knew the man she was looking for.
It turns out her friends and family had done a stellar job at sharing the pictures. They had reached the man’s relatives, each of which couldn’t believe that their grandpa had been forced to throw the snow globe.
One of the commenters identified herself as the man’s niece. She shared that her family had lost the girl in the photo, and the snow globe was among her most cherished possessions.
Ivelise fell into detective mode the minute she read the woman’s comments. She searched her profile and her photos, friends, and posts. But what was she looking for?
“I wanted to ensure that she was related to the man,” Ivelise said. “The internet is a very dangerous place.”
She found a few pictures of the woman with the man from the airport, which were not edited in any software or otherwise. Although she opened the woman’s private message, she still held her trust back.
“That snow globe was one of a kind,” said Ivelise. “Anyone could come and claim they knew the owner. Anyone could lie to get to it.”
Although the woman had already proved to know the man, it didn’t mean she deserved Ivelise’s complete trust. But Ivelise would still give her a chance to prove herself. It was the least she could do to find the man again.
Ivelise and the woman, Mandy, got to talking. After about an hour of conversation, Ivelise could tell that the woman was related to the man and loved him dearly.
The way Mandy talked about her uncle was endearing. There was a warmth to the relationship she described, painting the man as a very loving man. But there was something else that Ivelise caught while talking to the woman.
Ivelise realized that the woman really loved the girl in the picture as if she were her daughter. But she didn’t ask any questions on the matter.
She only assured Mandy that she had the snow globe with her and would be open to meeting at a restaurant near the airport where the man lost it. So, what was Mandy’s answer?
Mandy agreed to Ivelise’s terms. She lived in Miami and was willing to drive to Tampa to pick up the snow globe.
But the trip was a four-hour long drive that would need commitment and sheer strength to see through. As someone already juggling family life and work, could Mandy find the time to make the trip?
Mandy told Ivelise the reality of her issue. The drive was long, and although she wanted to, she didn’t know if she could make it.
Ivelise thought for a while and asked Mandy if she was comfortable sharing their plans on social media. Ivelise planned to ask the public for help. A Go Fund Me campaign would solve Mandy’s issue by helping her buy a plane ticket.
Mandy agreed, and Ivelise wasted no time writing the post and opening a Go Fund Me account for the same. She shared everything about Mandy, saying she needed the people’s help getting her to Tampa.
She reminded them that all the progress she’d made so far was because of them. Although she was eternally grateful for what they’d done, she still needed their help.
Ivelise didn’t know if her and Mandy’s plan would work. But the people heard their plea, sending all they could to help Mandy fly to Tampa.
The money in the Go Fund Me account surpassed what Mandy needed for her flight to and from Tampa. So what could she do with the rest of the money?
By the time Mandy was flying to meet Ivelise in Tampa, the story had taken a life of its own. Mandy even contacted her uncle about the snow globe, and he suggested accompanying her to the Ivelise’s to pick it up.
When they finally received their snow globe, his cheeks streamed with tears as he kissed it before hugging Ivelise in gratitude. He even explained who the girl in the photo was.
The man, John, explained that the girl in the photo was Mandy’s niece and his first granddaughter. He revealed that her doctors had diagnosed her with leukemia a few years back.
She passed away after three years of fighting valiantly. On hearing the story, Ivelise suggested they donate the rest of the Go Fund Me cash to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Mandy and John agreed wholeheartedly.