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North Texas pilot helps reunite 9-year-old with lost doll half a world away

Many people have lost things on a plane. Thanks to a network of people, a DFW-area pilot retrieved an American Girl doll for Valentina Dominguez of Plano.

PLANO, Texas — Valentina Dominguez, 9, thought she'd lost her "best friend" forever when she accidentally left her on a plane in Tokyo. 

Valentina, whose family lives in Plano, was devastated.

"Beatrice was a big part of our lives for the past three or four years," said her father Rudy Dominguez. "I am feeling sad because she is very sad."

Her best friend happens to be an American Girl doll named Beatrice. Rudy told WFAA they searched all their bags for the doll to no avail. The last time they saw her was on the plane. The family frantically called the airport and airlines holding on to any desperate hope of finding the doll.

The overseas family trip was three weeks ago. Now in late August, the 9-year-old has a lot to be happy about. With the help of an online post about the missing doll, word got around to a friend and later a neighbor to James Danen of Richardson.

"It's my nature. I like helping people... that's just what I like doing," said First Officer James Danen of American Airlines. Danen has been flying with American since 1993 and just so happens to fly to Tokyo often. "I was really glad I could do something nice for somebody," he said.

Danen had connected with the lost and found with Turkish Airlines at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo. It took the pilot veteran a second time around to finally get his hands on the doll. Danen took pictures with the doll in airports and on the flights as they returned home. 

On Aug. 21, Danen -- who lives just miles from the Dominguez family -- drove the doll to their home and handed it to a beaming Valentina. Danen also handed her some Japanese treats as well as a large map that showed where all Beatrice had been.

"Thank you! Was she well-behaved on the flight?" Valentina asked Jim.

"There's a lot of kindness in this world. He's a kind man. He said he would do it and followed through," Rudy Dominguez said about the pilot.

The Dominguez family is very thankful for the network of people who helped get the doll back. And a 9-year-old has learned a tough lesson about responsibility.

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