A Good Samaritan is being credited with returning a beloved teddy bear belonging to Vancouver woman Mara Soriano late Tuesday, four days after the custom teddy bear containing her late Mother’s voice on a voice box disappeared after a passerby picked up her temporarily unattended backpack while she was moving in to her new home in Vancouver’s West End.
“Honestly, it’s been just the wildest few hours of my life! I was taking a rest Tuesday because it was just non-stop canvassing the streets, talking to reporters, making sure we were getting the word out, and I just wanted to kind of rest.”
“But then at 9:30 p.m., I got this email from the Good Samaritan, but I was kind of wary, because the news was getting really big, and there was a really big reward stash, and I was kind of afraid the information was getting into the wrong hands.”
“But, this guy seemed like he just really wanted me to have the bear, and he seemed like he was in dire straits, and really wanted to turn his life around…”
Mara then arranged to meet the Good Samaritan in a safe and public space on West Georgia Street, not far from the Vancouver Public Library.
“We waited, and lo and behold, he just pulled Mama Bear out of his bag, and I just immediately started crying!” said Mara. “I could not believe it! She was wrapped in a handkerchief, and when he unwrapped it, my knees just buckled… I couldn’t see anything immediately, because my eyes just immediately welled up! I snatched her out of his arms before he could even fully take her out of the handkerchief, and I just hugged her so tightly, I just couldn’t believe my eyes!”
Mara tells Global News the Good Samaritan had apparently ‘liberated’ Mama Bear from a tent in Strathcona Park.
Mara thanks everyone who helped in the search for Mama Bear, including the police, the public, and the media.
“I am so unbelievably blown away and grateful for everybody who pitched in to help, everybody who spread the word. I had gotten messages from people all over Vancouver who said they kept their eyes peeled. People have been calling thrift stores, pawn shops, they’ve been combing alleys with me, going through dumpsters…”
“I just can’t believe that so many people would come together for someone as small as me, and I really believe it’s because they could put themselves in my shoes. We all really needed good news, and boy, did we get it!”
Mara says she uncovered important documents at home over the weekend which she’d thought had been stored in the stolen backpack. As for some electronics stored in the backpack, Mara holds out little hope that they will be recovered.
“We have our passports, we have our SIN cards, everything, so that’s all safe… unfortunately, the iPad, the Nintendo switch, my Mom’s wallet, the backpack… those are all gone. But I have Mama Bear and all of our documents, and that’s all I care about. And so, I feel safe, I feel relaxed. I feel like my Mom was 100 per cent looking out for us this weekend, it’s juts been the most unbelievable turn of events!”
“The Vancouver Police have been very co-operative. The officer assigned to the case has gotten other officers to patrol East Hastings or wherever the iPad pings, and had them asking questions, so they’ve really been great. But I know there’s really not much hope in getting those electronics back, and that’s okay!”
Vancouver’s biggest resident celebrity, actor Ryan Reynolds, had tweeted over the weekend an offer of a $5,000 reward to anyone who returned the bear to its rightful owner, no questions asked.
“Mr. Reynolds messaged me this morning asking for updates,” said Mara. “I messaged back that Mama Bear was home. He was probably asleep when I did, but I hope it’s the first thing he sees this morning!”
Other high profile names have also offered reward incentives, and Mara says other individuals have offered money to help with her lost belongings.
“Countless others have offered to help, but I don’t really feel comfortable asking people to do that. I really think that if you really want to make a contribution, the Palliative Care Unit at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto was the hospice where my Mom passed away. They treated my family with so much kindness and compassion, so I really want people to know that if they really want to make a contribution, to please make a donation there, because they were amazing.”