Mara Soriano, a 28-year-old in Vancouver, Canada, lost her mother Marilyn to cancer last year after she was diagnosed in 2010.
“I love you so much, I’m proud of you. I’ll always be with you,” a recording inside the bear said.
But on Friday, as Soriano and her fiancé moved into a new place, that bear was stolen — along with Soriano’s other most prized possessions.
Any help appreciated pic.twitter.com/infn9Gyi2K
— mara soriano | FIND MAMABEAR VANCOUVER (@drawmaradraw) July 26, 2020
Soriano got a call from a friend who was coming to help her move but got into a biking accident on the way, so she set off to help. In her rush, she forgot to tell her fiancé that she’d set the Herschel backpack containing those very important items next to their moving van.
“I couldn’t believe I was so dumb to have let such a thing happen,” she said, according to the BBC. “The backpack contained so much of our important documents and an iPad, a Nintendo Switch, my mum’s red Mickey Mouse wallet and, most importantly, her teddy bear.”
“It was so important to me because she had a recording on it that was specifically just for me that said she loved me, she was proud of me, and she’ll always be with me,” Soriano told CNN. “I hugged it every time I missed her.”
“I’ve just been kicking myself since the theft, I know it’s silly, but it feels like I lost my mum all over again.”
UPDATE: ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF THE THEFT! When I dropped the bag, my fiance was still in the alley, not inside, so it would have been right beside the uHaul cabin. This happened just after he pulled into the loading bay. pic.twitter.com/6eoGzVVr2t
— mara soriano | FIND MAMABEAR VANCOUVER (@drawmaradraw) July 27, 2020
A security camera video of the alleged theft came out and has also been circulating.
Soriano set out to plaster the area with signs asking for the return of her bear. She searched alleyways and dumpsters and asked passers-by and restaurant employees if they’d seen anything.
A few leads even came in, but they fizzled out.
To most people, it looks like an ordinary teddy bear.
But to Mara Soriano (@drawmaradraw), it’s no ordinary toy.
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) July 28, 2020
“I’m hearing dumpster trucks outside and my heart is just sinking,” Soriano said.
While there’s still no sign of the sentimental item, many people have stepped up to help Soriano, including celebrities and local law enforcement.
Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara. Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home. https://t.co/L4teoxoY50
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 25, 2020
“Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara,” actor Ryan Reynolds tweeted on Saturday. “Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home.”
“Have you seen this bear?” the Vancouver Police tweeted on Saturday. “It was stolen from a backpack yesterday in the West End and it has sentimental value to the owner. Please call us if you see it at 604-717-3321.”
Good Samaritans around the globe also began working hard to make it up to her.
Soriano tweeted Tuesday that Build-a-Bear Workshop and Herschel contacted her about her lost items and offered to replace them.
“Build-a-bear got in contact with me and so did Herschel about replacing the things that were taken,” she wrote. “I know it won’t be the same bear that my mom made with her own hands, but now it’ll remind me of her AND the time the world came together for us for a few days.”
Soriano added that she also had a recording of the original recording, and would be sending it to Build-a-Bear to be put into her new bear.
Late in the evening on July 28, Soriano tweeted that “Mama Bear” had been returned to her by two good Samaritans. Though the bear was missing her glasses, Soriano was overjoyed.
— mara soriano | MAMABEAR IS HOME! (@drawmaradraw) July 29, 2020
“BREAK OUT THE @AviationGin, [Ryan Reynolds]!!!” she tweeted. “MAMABEAR IS HOME!!!”
A teddy bear carrying the audio of a dying mother’s final message to her daughter has been safely reunited with its owner. Mara Soriano played the recording after getting the bear back on Tuesday. https://t.co/NKsxkjkfLR pic.twitter.com/DfyuzVbtUs
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) July 29, 2020
Soriano reported the bear and voice box remained in perfect condition, and thanked the countless people following her story for helping to bring the priceless bear home to her.
UPDATE, July 30, 2020: On July 28, Soriano tweeted that “Mama Bear” had been returned to her. We have updated this article with additional information about the bear’s return.
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