There are few things that unite folks as much as the opportunity to solve a mystery and bring joy to a child at the same time. There are so many problems in the world, but sometimes it’s the littlest things that make the biggest impact.
Like Teddy. Teddy is, as the name implies, a teddy bear — but he’s not just any teddy bear. This particular stuffed animal has been at the epicenter of hopes and dreams, a beacon of comfort and a reminder of the love one family has for their daughter.
Teddy is a well-traveled bear. His story began in 2016 when he traveled to a little girl named Naomi ahead of her adoptive parents, Ben and Addie Pascal — a promise of the caring home she was about to be welcomed into.
The small bear has traveled with the family all over the world from their home in Jackson, Wyoming, but last year in October, he decided to furlough in Glacier National Park while the family was vacationing there — a fitting choice, seeing it’s the natural habitat of his real-live counterparts.
After a day of outdoor fun with friends at Glacier National Park, the family realized Teddy had gone missing. He wasn’t in the car, their bags or in Naomi’s arms, but by the time they realized he was gone, they had long since left the park.
That night, it snowed, closing the park to visitors and sealing Teddy’s fate. Family friend Terri Hayden, who lived in the area and had gone with them, reported the loss to park officials, but that was really all she could do.
Meanwhile, it was a bear specialist park ranger, Tom Mazzarisi, who stumbled upon the misplaced ursine while cleaning up part of a trail. Teddy was sodden and looked very unloved, sitting alone in melted snow.
The normal protocol was to dispose of found items that “aren’t worth much monetarily,” but Mazzarisi was charmed by the sad plushie for some reason, so he adopted it.
Teddy spent the cold winter indoors, and when spring broke, he became a fixture on Mazzarisi’s dashboard.
“It was a perfect little mascot,” the ranger said, according to the New York Post.
For perhaps the first time in his life, Teddy saw wolves. He saw bears. He saw quite a bit of the national park.
But his family still missed him. It had been months and months since his disappearance, but Addie posted about the toy in June, hoping for a miracle.
“Can anyone help us find Teddy?” Addie wrote on June 15. “Our daughter Naomi lost him on the Hidden Lake trail in #glaciernationalpark last Fall. Probably a half mile from the visitor center, possibly under a rocky outcropping.
“Teddy is so special- he traveled from Wyoming to Florida and on to Ethiopia with dear friends to meet her ahead of her parents. He kept her company until she could come home for good.
“Since then he’s gone everywhere with her: camping adventures, hiking shenanigans, beach trips. He’s played in the desert sand and cuddled up on snowy days. He has snuggled her to sleep almost every night. He was her constant companion on our journey back to Ethiopia, as well as Rwanda, Croatia, Greece, and all over the West. He’s been by her side for so many milestones. But there are many more adventures to be had!”
In response, people offered to plan their hikes around Teddy’s last known location. Others offered to start a GoFundMe to aid in his return trip once he was found. One person even commented saying two stuffed animals had just been found and turned in — but neither of them was Teddy.
Hayden hadn’t forgotten about Teddy either, and prompted by a sense of guilt or compassion or affection, she headed back out to the park with the goal of bringing Teddy home.
“I’m a woman of faith,” Hayden said, according to the Post. “And that morning I said, ‘OK Lord, if this bear is around, please put that bear in my path and let me come home with that bear today.'”
And she spotted him. In the parking lot, on the dash of a ranger’s truck. It was Mazzarisi’s, of course — but he had the day off, and the truck was locked up.
Hayden took a photo and sent it to Addie, who confirmed the bear was Teddy.
“I run up to these rangers, and I’m hyperventilating,” Hayden recalled. “And I’m going, ‘There’s a truck down at the trailhead, and there’s a bear sitting on the dashboard.'”
Hayden’s story lined up with the rangers’ accounts of the found toy, and they retrieved Teddy for her, adding a ranger hat and junior park ranger badge as a bonus.
A very happy Hayden sent Teddy and his souvenirs home to Naomi, and she bought a new stuffed bear for Mazzarisi, so that his dash wouldn’t be empty. He named it Clover.
Now Teddy is home where he belongs, Naomi has her companion back at her side and everyone is being treated to a heartwarming tale.
“It was just a story of hope and kindness and people just working together,” dad Ben Pascal said.
“It touched people’s hearts. It gave ’em hope. It made ’em feel like there is good in the world, which I believe there is.”
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