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

Adam Ireton holds his son Weston, along with Kristen and Beckett as they celebrate Weston's last day of treatment for lukemia. (Kristen Ireton photo)
799 days: ‘Super’ Weston defeats cancer

‘Weston is disease-free now, so we will be going into a period of checkups and things until he’s 18’

RCMP officer Chris Voller was honoured at a gathering hosted by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw members. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Officer Chris Voller says farewell to the North Island

“One of the biggest impacts you can have is having a pre-existing relationship with an individual.”

The River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch for the area, including the Bella Coola River and tributaries, Kingcome River, Owikeeno-Rivers Inlet, and surrounding areas.
Wuikinuxv under evacuation order, more rain in forecast

Bella Coola’s Hill has re-opened but road conditions are muddy and wet

Bill McQuarrie is back with a special edition of North Island Rising. Have some thoughts? Write a letter to the editor at editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.
An act of kindness goes a long way

‘This woman, this nurse so obviously cares and is so unlike the people I most often write about’

The boil water advisory came into effect Oct. 21, 2020.
The Village of Alert Bay is on a boil water advisory

Coliform levels could indicate the presence of a pathogen

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Most Read