Mara Soriano, top, holds her mother Marilyn in a hospital in an undated handout photo. Soriano is pleading for the return of a teddy bear that speaks words recorded by her mother before she died of cancer in June 2019. Soriano says it was stolen while she was moving to a new apartment on Friday. (Mara Soriano/Contributed)

Vancouver resident finds lost teddy bear containing her mother’s voice recording

‘I just wanted the bear. The bear is what’s the most important part. She made it herself.’

Mara Soriano has spent the last four days checking the alleys and dumpsters of Vancouver’s West End, putting up posters and answering multitudes of emails and tweets, hoping she’d find a stolen teddy bear that carries her late mother’s voice.

And on Tuesday night, the Vancouver resident was successful.

Sitting in her apartment, surrounded by half-unpacked boxes, a smiling Soriano cuddled the brown bear returned hours earlier by two Good Samaritans, still wearing its red-and-white dress and white jacket.

“I’m not gonna lie I kind of buckled. As soon as I saw (him) pull her out of the bag my knees just buckled,” she said in a Skype interview.

“I just started sobbing and I grabbed her out of his hands and I couldn’t let her go.”

The bear was stolen Friday while Soriano was moving to a new apartment, and her social media plea for help went viral. Celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds and George Stroumboulopoulos each promised $5,000 rewards for its return.

Marilyn Soriano was diagnosed with cancer about 10 years ago when Mara was 18 years old.

Her mom gave her the bear in December 2017 and it included a voice recording made by Marilyn reminding Mara of the love between mother and daughter.

It was also a last memory of Marilyn’s voice because it changed as her cancer progressed.

“It was much softer. The cancer had really eaten away at her and that bear was basically the last reminder of the mom that I knew – it was her voice that I remembered growing up,” she said in an earlier interview.

After a year-and-a-half of treatment, Soriano’s mom died last June.

Her mom had put the toy together at Build-A-Bear adding glasses and a jacket like the ones she used to wear, Soriano said.

The glasses weren’t returned but she said she’s not worried and will ask Build-A-Bear for a similar pair.

“It feels so surreal like I can’t believe, I can’t believe it, I can’t – like Mama Bear’s home.”

Soriano said she got an email around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night from someone who said they had the bear and wanted to return it to her.

She was skeptical, she said, because the man did not have many details, so she set up a “safe meeting space” with a member of the media present.

“We just waited and lo and behold, the two kind Samaritans came, and they gave Mama Bear back.”

The bear was kept in a bag and the Good Samaritans told her it hadn’t been handled, she said.

She described the bear as being in perfect condition and smelling and feeling great.

“Not a single scratch, not a single thread is off.”

There was a little bit of bicycle grease on the bear’s jacket but “nothing a little laundry can’t fix,” she said.

The Good Samaritans told Soriano they saw security footage she had posted online, recognized the person seen taking the backpack containing the bear and got it back from him, she said.

Mama Bear was lost last week as Soriano was moving to a new apartment and was interrupted by a call from a friend who had been hit by a car while on his way to help her. She rushed to his side but, amidst the “panic and frazzled state” forgot her backpack.

The friend is okay.

And while the bear is now back, Soriano lost an iPad with photos and video of her mother that hadn’t been backed up.

“I just wanted the bear. The bear is what’s the most important part. She made it herself.”

Soriano said her mother would have been “super happy” to hear of the great outcome but would also have reminded her to have faith.

“I feel like she would have said ‘I told you so’.”

When she gets married next summer, Soriano said the bear will have a special seat where her mom would have been.

But for the next few days, she said she’s going to carry Mama Bear around.

“It’s hard to let it go. I’m going to sleep with her tonight. I’m going to show her the new apartment, it’s just been the wildest three hours,” she said with a laugh. “It literally just happened, and I still can’t believe it.”

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Victoria man charged in stabbing death of Vancouver overdose prevention worker

Maximus Roland Hayes, 23, is facing one count of manslaughter in connection to the killing

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs Vancouver Island man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Langford theft investigation leads to national crime ring

More than $250,000 in stolen goods recovered, $67,000 in cash seized

Pumps not needed to keep Cowichan River running this year

Wet year so far has resulted in higher water levels

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read