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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking for the next of kin after a member of the public reported finding cremated human remains off the BX Falls trail on Oct. 15, 2020. (RCMP)
Cremated human remains found off Vernon hiking trail

RCMP seek to find next of kin, release photo to public to help ID

Vernon’s Terry Konopada changed his life after a mild heart attack and re-entered the employment world courtesy of help and support from WorkBC. (Photo submitted)
Terry of All Trades: Vernon man finds the right fit

After some health issues, Terry Konopada turned his life around with help and support from WorkBC

(SilverStar Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Pandemic parking plan at SilverStar irks season pass holders

Unlimited season pass holders limited to days they can reserve parking; resort defends COVID-19 plan

santa.
Morning Start: Santa Claus has an official pilot’s license

Your morning start for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

Vernon City Hall. (Morning Star - file photo)
Vernon council endorses 2.13% tax increase as part of 2021 budget

Next year’s capital budget includes $18.1 million in upcoming projects

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A happy, well-fed bear cub plays in the grass in northern B.C. (John Marriott photo)
Bear witness: Shuswap’s John Marriott offers intimate look at black, polar and grizzly bears

Sarah Elmeligi and Marriott’s What Bears Teach Us explores bear/human co-existence

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Wear a mask for the benefit of all

If this virus latches onto one of your cells, it takes over the RNA and DNA and makes you sick

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Brent Ross poses with his dog Jack who died over the weekend after asphyxiating on a ball. Ross hopes his experience serves as a cautionary tale to other dog owners. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm man warns others after dog dies from choking on a ball

Brent Ross grieving the sudden loss of Jack, a healthy, seven-year-old chocolate lab

Most Read