UPDATE 7/29/2020: The missing Build-A-Bear story has found a happy ending.
As the CBC reports, Mara Soriano has been reunited with the plush “MamaBear” which features a recording of her late mother’s voice. The 28-year-old says two strangers found the stuffed bear — which had been inside a bag stolen as she and her fiancé moved their belongings out of a U-Haul van in Vancouver last week — and returned it to her on Tuesday.
According to Soriano, the anonymous men who returned the bear got it from the thief who took her bag.
"They liberated her," Soriano told the CBC.
Soriano — whose story went viral — isn’t the only one celebrating. Ryan Reynolds, who had offered a $5,000 reward for the bear’s return, posted a message thanking those who helped look for the treasured toy.
“To the person who took the bear, thanks for keeping it safe,” the Canadian star added. It’s unclear if the men who returned the bear will be granted the pledged reward money put up by the Deadpool actor.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 29, 2020
Our original article from July 26 follows.
Ryan Reynolds is used to playing a superhero on the big screen, but the Canadian actor is willing to help out close to home too.
On Saturday, Reynolds, 43, took to Twitter to offer up a $5,000 reward to whoever locates a missing teddy bear in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. But it turns out the stuffed animal is far more than just your average lost toy.
“Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara. Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home,” Reynolds wrote, retweeting the original post from a reporter in the city.
Vancouver: $5,000 to anyone who returns this bear to Mara. Zero questions asked. I think we all need this bear to come home. https://t.co/L4teoxoY50
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 25, 2020
The story behind the stuffed bear was revealed in a CBC article and has proved to be truly heartbreaking. It turns out Mara is actually 28-year-old Mara Soriano, who said her mother's voice was recorded and put into the custom Build-A-Bear shortly after she went into hospice.
“At hospice her voice was different. Much softer. Not the mom I grew up with,” Soriano told the CBC. “That bear is the last memory I have of her speaking in her normal voice. She said that she loved me and she was proud of me and that she'll always be with me.”
The recording was the final message from her mother, Marilyn Soriano, who died of cancer in June 2019 at age 53.
The bear disappeared while Soriano and her fiancé were unloading a U-Haul van after a move in Vancouver on Friday. When a friend who was biking over to help them unpack said they had been hit by a van, Soriano immediately dropped everything to help. In a “frazzled state,” she ignored her belongings. When she returned, they checked every box and even consulted the U-Haul company, only to find that the bag that contained the bear was missing. Finally, they reached out to the building for security footage.
“Lo and behold on the security footage, this guy was seen looking around, making sure nobody was looking first,” Soriano told the CBC. “And he just took the bag and ran.”
While the bag also contained important documents like a blank checkbook, Soriano’s citizenship card, social insurance cards and the couple’s passports, the thing she wants to be reunited with most is the piece of her mother’s memory. Soriano said it’s an important reminder of the Philippines, where she emigrated from at age 9.
“It’s a reminder of home,” she said. “The 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.”
With three kids at home, it’s likely that Reynolds knows a thing or two about stuffed animals. The Deadpool star and his wife Blake Lively welcomed their third child back in October, People reported. The couple is also parents to daughters Inez, 3, and James, 5 — who were just name-checked on family friend Taylor Swift’s new album, Folklore.
Reynolds previously told Entertainment Weekly Radio in 2016 that he loves being a father to little girls, sharing “if I could have nine daughters, I would be thrilled. Really, like I genuinely would be.”
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