A Good Samaritan is being credited with returning a beloved teddy bear to a Vancouver woman, four days after the bear, which contains a recording of her late mother’s voice, was taken.
“Honestly, it’s been just the wildest few hours of my life!” an elated Mara Soriano told Global News.
Soriano and her fiancé had been moving into a new apartment in the city’s West End when they briefly left a backpack containing the bear and other belongings outside unattended, and a man came and grabbed it.
A couple of notable Canadians took notice, including actor Ryan Reynolds and broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos, who each offered $5,000 as a reward for the bear’s return.
On Tuesday night, Soriano received an email from someone who claimed to have the bear and wanted to return it.
“I was kind of wary because the news was getting really big, and there was a really big reward stash,” she said, “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.”
She said she arranged to meet in a public space on West Georgia Street, not far from the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.
“We waited, and lo and behold, he just pulled Mama Bear out of his bag, and I just immediately started crying!” she said.
“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!”
Soriano said the Good Samaritan had apparently “liberated” Mama Bear from a tent in Strathcona Park.
“I am so unbelievably blown away and grateful for everybody who pitched in to help, everybody who spread the word,” she said.
“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.”
As for some electronics that had also been in the backpack, she said she 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,” she added.
“But I have Mama Bear and all of our documents, and that’s all I care about. I feel like my Mom was 100 per cent looking out for us this weekend!”