Celebrities and authorities are calling for the return of a Vancouver woman’s stolen stuffed bear that contained her mother’s last message to her.
Mara Soriano, 28, was unloading her things from a U-Haul into a new home in the city's West End neighborhood on Friday when she got a call that a friend who was en route to help with the move had gotten into a bike accident, CNN reported.
In a rush to get to her injured friend, Soriano left the bag containing her precious bear on the ground near the front of the truck. Her fiancé, unaware that she’d forgotten the bag, continued to unload the back of the truck. At some point before Soriano’s return, the bag was stolen.
In the days since, Soriano has been feverishly trying to recover the missing bag. Inside it were blank checks, passports, and other important documents, as well as an iPad and a Nintendo Switch, CBC News reported.
However, what Soriano cares most about retrieving is the teddy bear. The custom Build-a-Bear stuffed animal housed a special recording from her mother, Marilyn Soriano. The woman passed away in June 2019 at the age of 53 after a battle with cancer, according to CBC News.
“It was so important to me because she had a recording on it that was specifically just for me that said she loved me, she was proud of me, and she'll always be with me,” Soriano said in an interview with CNN. “I hugged it every time I missed her.”
Soriano's mother gave her the bear as a gift shortly before she passed away, Soriano told CNN. It was wearing a red and white dress, white denim jacket, and black glasses which were her part of her mother’s signature look.
Soriano’s efforts have attracted attention on social media, with numerous celebrities advocating for her search. Some have even added a financial reward to the mix.
Alongside a tweet sharing Soriano’s story, actor Ryan Reynolds wrote, “Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara. Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home.”
In response, actor and director Zach Braff wrote, “I NEED THIS BEAR TO COME HOME!!!!!!”
Canadian TV host George Stroumboulopoulos also added another $5,000 to the reward pool.
Soriano on Monday shared security footage of the theft. The 47-second video shows a man walk up to the bag, look around — presumably to make sure that no one was watching — and then pick up the bag before walking away again.
Soriano has reported the theft to the authorities, according to CBC News.
In her interview with CBC News, Soriano said that she is “devastated” and “crushed” by the loss of the bear. Her mother had recorded the message shortly before going into hospice, where her health took a downturn, Soriano said.
“At hospice her voice was different. Much softer. Not the mom I grew up with. That bear is the last memory I have of her speaking in her normal voice,” she said. “She said that she loved me and she was proud of me and that she'll always be with me.”
Vancouver police shared the story on their Twitter account on Saturday and asked anyone with any information on the case to contact them.
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