Mara Soriano, a 28-year-old resident of Vancouver, recently had a backpack stolen. Inside was her iPad, passports, important paperwork, and more, but none of that matters as much as one stuffed animal, a stuffed Build-A-Bear wearing a red and white patterned dress and a white denim jacket.
You see, that bear had inside it a voice recording from Mara's late mother. Mara has started a social media campaign to spread the word about her stolen bear in an effort to get the sentimental object back. And even celebs like Ryan Reynolds have joined the cause.
Mara told CNN that the backpack was stolen from outside a U-Haul she and her fiancé had rented to help them move. "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. I hugged it every time I missed her," she said.
Mara's mom died in June of 2019 from cancer. She was only 53 years old. The bear was a gift from her mom shortly before she passed away.
Mara says she dropped the bag in a hurry because one of her friends who was on their way to help them unload the truck had been in a biking accident. "I dropped everything next to the U-Haul and just tried to make my way to my friend as quickly as possible," she said.
"In my rush, I neglected to tell my fiancé that I put the bag by the front of the U-Haul, he immediately started unloading the back of it so he didn't even know it was at the front." Her friend is going OK, but when she got back to the truck, her bag was gone.
Security footage showed someone grab the bag and walk away quickly. Mara's story quickly spread around Canadian news outlets. She's posted flyers all over the city with pictures of the bear, hoping that someone somewhere has some information about its whereabouts. The Vancouver Police Department even put out a call for anyone who's seen the bear to contact them.
Additionally, several celebrities, including Zach Braff and Dan Levy, have retweeted the call to action and shared their support for Mara's search. But perhaps the celebrity most dedicated to the cause of finding Mara's bear is Ryan Reynolds, who offered a $5,000 reward for the bear's return, "zero questions asked."
Although Mara's received a few leads, the bear, which wears big black glasses just like her mom did, is still missing. She's been documenting the search process on her Twitter account.
"At hospice her voice was different. Much softer. Not the mom I grew up with," Mara said of her mom in an interview with CBC. "That bear is the last memory I have of her speaking in her normal voice."
"It's a reminder of home," she said. "That bear has a message in it in Filipino. It says, 'I love you,' but in our language. So it's very specific and very unique."
Hopefully, all the attention the story's getting and the offer from Ryan Reynolds will make the bear turn up one way or another. For those who are helping in the search, Mara has a message: "I AM SO HUMBLED by the amount of positivity and offers of help from everyone, but please stay safe, be mindful of your surroundings, if you can, wear gloves and masks if you're going through alleys and dumpsters, I would hate for anyone to get hurt," she wrote on Twitter.
Update: Mara's bear has officially found its way home! On Tuesday, July 28, Mara tweeted a picture of herself with a big smile on her face, holding her bear. "BREAK OUT THE @AviationGin, @VancityReynolds!!! MAMABEAR IS HOME!!! #FOUNDMARASBEAR" she wrote.
Although the bear's glasses were missing, it was returned otherwise unharmed by two "good Samaritans." The voice box is in tact and Mara can thankfully still play the message from her late mom.