B.C. woman overwhelmed by international response after Ryan Reynolds offers to help find her stolen teddy bear
VANCOUVER -- Mara Soriano has spent the last few days in Vancouver back alleys, desperately searching through dumpsters for an irreplaceable gift from her mother, who died from cancer in 2019.
It’s a custom Build-a-Bear teddy bear, given to her at Christmas in 2017. The stuffed animal has a voice recording that says, in part, "No matter where you are, part of me will always be with you forever. I love you."
"It’s the last thing I have that sounds like the mom I grew up with," Soriano says through tears, explaining that her mother’s cancer robbed her of her voice in the final years of her life.
The bear is also dressed like her mother, right down to the oversized glasses.
On Friday, while Soriano was moving to a new apartment in the West End, the bear was inside a black Herschel backpack, along with her iPad and passport.
She briefly put the bag down to take a call from a friend who had been hit by a van. In her panic, she forgot about the bag and within 10 minutes, she says it was taken.
Soriano has put up posters in the West End, but her search went viral when Vancouver-born star Ryan Reynold tweeted about it, offering a $5,000 reward for the safe return of the bear.
The story has also caught the attention of Zach Braff and Dan Levy.
"I never in a million years would have thought this would have gotten this much traction," Soriano says, adding that she’s received messages from strangers as far away as India, Germany and Australia.
Surveillance video obtained by both Vancouver police and Soriano show a man in a baseball cap with the bag. The leads give her some hope that the precious bear will be found."I really feel as if my mom were here to see this, she would just cry. She’d be so grateful and I’m so grateful," she says.
Anyone with information can contact Soriano by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vancouver police said people can also share tips with the department by calling 604-717-3321.