Mara Soriano is pleading for the return of a teddy bear after she says it was stolen while she was moving to a new apartment, in a July 26, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mara Soriano is pleading for the return of a teddy bear after she says it was stolen while she was moving to a new apartment, in a July 26, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Vancouver woman pleads for return of stolen teddy bear with late mother’s voice

Ryan Reynolds promises $5,000 reward

VANCOUVER — “I love you, I’m proud of you, I’ll always be with you.”

Those are the words Vancouver resident Mara Soriano would hear in the voice of her mother, who died of cancer last year, when she pressed a button on the paw of a custom teddy bear.

Soriano is pleading for the return of the bear after she says it was stolen while she was moving to a new apartment on Friday. The call gained volume after celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds and George Stroumboulopoulos each promised $5,000 rewards for its return.

“Every time I missed her, I would hug the bear and I would listen to her voice and it made me feel a lot closer to her,” Soriano said. ”Honestly, I feel a little silly, I know it’s just a bear to the guy who stole it, but it was everything to me. I feel like I lost her all over again.”

Soriano said she was 18 when her mother Marilyn Soriano was diagnosed with cancer about 10 years ago. But medication was effective in keeping the tumour growth down and, for a long time, it seemed like everything was under control.

Her mother gave her the bear as a gift in December 2017 after she moved to Vancouver from Toronto. As the eldest of three, Soriano said she didn’t get a lot of one-on-one time with her mother and it was her mother’s way of reminding her that she was loved.

Soriano kept the bear, dressed in her mother’s signature style dress and glasses, on her desk.

“I saw it every day and it made me think of my family and made me feel a lot less alone,” she said.

Soon after Soriano received the bear, doctors discovered the tumour was growing and her mother’s health began to decline. After a year and a half of treatment, she died in June 2019.

“By the end of her life, she wasn’t the mom I had grown up with. Her voice had changed, it was much softer. The cancer had really eaten away at her and that bear was basically the last reminder of the mom that I knew — it was her voice that I remembered growing up.”

Soriano said she was in the midst of moving to a new apartment when she got a call from a friend who had been on his way to help. The friend had been hit by a car and Soriano rushed to help him, accompanying him to the emergency room.

The friend is OK — no broken bones — but Soriano had left her backpack outside in the midst of her distraction.

Along with the bear, she lost an iPad with photos and video of her mother that hadn’t been backed up.

Since Friday, Soriano said she hasn’t eaten or slept properly and has been walking the streets and alleys of the neighbourhood hoping to find the bear discarded somewhere.

Restaurants and cafes in the area have shared security footage showing a man picking up the bag. Soriano was told she would have to wait until Monday to see if her building manager would also release footage.

In the meantime, she said she’s been heartened by the support she has received, including from the celebrities who amplified her message.

After Reynolds offered the first reward, Stroumboulopoulos offered to match it, while actors Zach Braff and Dan Levy both retweeted calls for the bag’s return.

Soriano said she had considered offering a reward, but with all the moving expenses she was already facing, it would have been tough.

“I’m so, so floored by the response,” she said. “I’m blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2020.

Cancer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

county
The County of Paintearth Council has approved the 2021 operational and capital budgets

Capital spending approved for 2021 amounts to just over $3.8 million

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

U15B Coyote Goaltender Damon Ries had his work cut out for him in the team’s tilt vs. the Hanna Colts on Nov. 29th. He allowed eight goals on nearly 70 shots in their 8-0 loss.
Kevin J. Sabo photo
PHOTOS: U15B Coyotes took on the Hanna Colts on Nov. 29th

The game wrapped with a score of 8-0 in favour of the Colts

Paintearth Lodge staff members and residents pose with some of the many items donated to the facility for the online auction held Nov. 19th to 23rd.
Contributed photo
Paintearth Lodge holds online auction

Over $7,600 was raised, with the money going towards recreation activities for the residents

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Most Read