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’s pump prices second lowest in B.C.

Gasoline prices range from 102.9-114.9 cents per litre in North Okanagan city

Splatsin Elder struggles to stop tubers from accessing his private property

Nathan Kinbasket has a certificate of possession on the area

First degree murder charges for North Okanagan woman

59-year-old woman charged in Round Lake suspicious death incident

Dr. Henry art opens Lumby exhibit

Paper mache creation greets guests at Beyond the Mask show

New Lake Country fire hall breaks ground

Groundwork is on tap for a new community firehall. Site works are… Continue reading

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Interior Health expands COVID-19 testing access in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve, no-appointment-needed testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

Shuswap pet nutritionist and raw diet advocate to be in national magazine

Sicamous’s Deanna Larocque building reputation for canine support

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower, in Tulameen

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

UPDATE: More personnel at Dry Lake fire, 43 properties remain under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Most Read