Losing a personal item or having something stolen from you is always such an uncomfortable and traumatic experience to go through—and the more valuable or sentimental the thing is, the more heartbreaking it feels.
Mara Soriano, a 28-year-old Canadian artist, tried searching long and far for her backpack after it disappeared out of nowhere. But harsher was the fact that inside was the most valuable item she owned. Even though she was about ready to give up and had lost all hope, everything suddenly changed once her story spread like wildfire on the internet.
Did she end up finding her lost possession from retweeting her tweets to celebrities offering up cash rewards?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Losing Something is Always Emotional
From feeling violated to disappointed and frustrated to even beating yourself up for not being “more aware,” all sorts of emotions can bubble up when you realize that you lost a personal item, causing even more stress to the situation.
And when 28-year-old Mara Soriano lost one of her most prized possessions on one of the most exciting days of her life, nothing could explain just how heart-breaking she felt.
From feeling on top of the world to falling down the rabbit hole within seconds, Mara never would’ve expected the hunt for her stuff would be just as significant as receiving the priceless gift itself.
A New and Exciting Phase in Life
In the summer of 2020, Mara Soriano and her fiancé were getting ready for a big move to a new place in Vancouver, Canada.
She was excited to take the next step of the relationship with the love of her life, and continue to chase her dreams of being a professional artist.
Mara specializes in storyboarding and character design, which means that she’s not only talented with visual art, but she both comprehends and admires sentiment, meaning, and emotion.
Which is why when she lost one of the most precious items during her big move to her new apartment, she indeed took it to heart and was devastated.
“I Can’t Believe How Lucky I Am to Draw Cartoons For a Living.”
The last couple of years had been quite an up and down rollercoaster for Mara. When it came to her job, things were going well. She was far from the stereotypical struggling and starving artist that many talented artists end up being, and had landed a job in a field that she loved.
She posted a picture on her Instagram of her in the zone drawing, with a heart-warming and inspiring caption: “I love my job. A lot. I’m not as good as I want to be, I don’t practice as much as I should, I know I can work harder and be better and these are things I am constantly fighting with, but for the most part I really, really love coming into work and the struggle and hardship of becoming a better artist is something I am learning to begrudgingly love. I can’t believe how lucky I am to draw cartoons for a living! I feel so, so unbelievably grateful.”
A Lucky Lad
The humble artist was working hard to better herself in all aspects professionally. But when she wasn’t working hard, she was spending her free time with one lucky lad.
Mara had met the perfect beau for her, Richard, and they started to fall more and more in love with each other every single day. From hiking around in Canada’s beautiful scenic mountains to messing around on their guitars in the living room, the two of them were inseparable.
Even with all this good, Mara still underwent one big and heart-breaking family matter during this time.
A Hardship Before the Incident
Things had been going so well for Mara and Richard. And after a rough year dealing with some intense family matters, the two were thrilled to move into a new apartment in Vancouver and start fresh together.
Though, Mara had lost something very near and dear to her heart that sent her on a wild adventure during the move. But what exactly was this particular item? Well, it all comes back to one of the most challenging times of her life, back in the summer of 2019.
No matter what age you are, it’s never easy having to deal with an ill parent—especially if you’re incredibly close with them. Mara and her mother, Marilyn, were incredibly close. When she was sadly diagnosed with a very intense and aggressive cancer case, you can imagine just how hard it was for Mara and her family to take it all in.
But even with a weakened immune system, Mara’s mother stayed optimistic and kind-hearted and did whatever she could to make her daughter happy. Your parent will always be your parent. Right?
A Heart-Warming Mother-Daughter Connection
Mara and her mother, Marilyn, had such a special connection, which made it that much harder to witness her mother in this declining state.
Whether it was visiting her in the hospital and keeping her company, or helping her around the house whenever she was sent back home, Mara did her best to keep her chin up and be there for her mother whenever she could. However, she could.
Mara posted on her Instagram account, “I remember growing up and seeing my mom in quiet contemplation over whatever she needed to do- whether it be writing in a journal or figuring out finances. I love that she still does mom things and I cherish it now in ways I never thought I would before.”
A Precious and Priceless Present
Mara did her best to keep her head up high during her mom’s battle with the disease, but as a loving mother, Marilyn could see the toll it was taking on her.
So during Marilyn’s battle, the sweet 53-year-old mother gifted her daughter with something incredibly precious and priceless.
It was a customized Build-A-Bear teddy bear with a built-in specialized voice-recording of Marilyn that played when you squeezed it. The message said, “I love you. I’m proud of you. And I’ll always be with you.” How sweet!
Appreciative of the Little and Big Things in Life
Mara is the type of person who doesn’t take things for granted and appreciates both the big and little things in her life. And if anything, this whole experience with her mother showed just exactly how much this is true—especially with this precious teddy bear to keep Mara in a festive mood.
Sadly, on June 29, 2019, Mara’s beloved mother had lost the battle with cancer, leaving Mara to mourn the loss of one of the most influential people to her.
A Reminder That She is Loved
It’s never easy for anybody to lose a family member, and since Mara and her loving mother were so close, you can imagine just how hard it was for her to handle the entire situation.
But thankfully, Mara had a great support system to help through those hard times, and above all else, she had that precious and priceless teddy bear to remind her just how much her mother loved her.
But like we said, Mara’s last couple of years were emotional rollercoasters filled with ups and downs. So as heartbreaking as it was to lose her mother, she had some excellent headed her way to balance it out.
Getting Down on One Knee
After a challenging and emotional year, Mara was about to be blown away by her beau. In the summer of 2019, a couple of months after losing her mother, Richard got down on one knee and professed his unconditional love for Mara.
She excitingly said yes to his proposal and was thrilled that they were ready to take the next steps in life and commit to each other.
The new year had finally come around, and the two were ready to pack up a U-Haul and move into a brand new home.
The Hustle & Bustle of Moving
Moving can be just as thrilling as it is stressful. With all of the fun, excitement, and joy of finding a new home and nesting in it, the actual process can be incredibly chaotic, physically exhausting, and quite taxing.
Come to the end of July 2020. Mara and Richard worked hard through the chaos and stress of moving and were slowly turning their new apartment into a warm and welcoming place of their own. However, during all of the hustle and bustle, Mara had left her backpack out by their U-Haul truck while moving their furniture in. And by the time she got back, it was gone.
Not Just a Backpack
As we mentioned before, it doesn’t matter what the object that you lost is or how valuable it is; those initial feelings of realization that your item might be gone forever can be intense and overwhelming.
The thing is, Mara didn’t just lose her handy Herschel backpack—inside of it were all sorts of valuable belongings, including the precious and priceless Teddy bear that her mother gave to her right before her passing.
Mara and her fiancé, Richard, immediately searched the area in hopes that it was just lost somewhere in the truck or the apartment.
Searching Far and Wide
The couple looked everywhere for it. Mara stormed the streets, looking around corners and alleyways, checking the dumpsters, and asking people around.
Nothing mattered to her except getting back that beautiful and sentimental Build-A-Bear.
The aspiring artist searched and searched, and even printed out little flyers to hand out and post everywhere for it, but nothing was coming up. What was she meant to do?
The old school approach didn’t seem to work, but she wasn’t going to give up just yet.
Losing the Light at the End of the Tunnel
This fuzzy and the cuddly teddy bear was so precious to her that she was going to stop at nothing to find it and get it back. However, the light at the end of that tunnel seemed to dim darker and darker.
She figured she would try out her luck with a more modern approach, hoping that someone would somehow help her.
She had been through enough that year but felt like maybe she could stir up some inspiration online.
Mara & Mamabear
Mara decided to go on Twitter and post about the situation, and even offered a cash reward for anyone who could find her backpack and a sentimental gift from her mom. She then kept everyone updated on the case, hoping that someone in her community would help her out.
Little did she know just that once the people of the Internet would get a hold of what happened, her whole perspective on the situation would change.
“Going to be scouring that area more closely today and putting up more flyers!! Please keep your eyes peeled in that area! You guys have given me so much hope that recovering Mamabear is possible. I am so grateful from the bottom of my heart,” Mara tweeted.
“The Last Thing I have of Her.”
Mara had gained a whole new burst of energy once people had heard her story of losing her precious and priceless present, “Mamabear.”
Not only did she feel overwhelmed with hope from the community and the fact that people from all around were trying to help her, but she gained a whole new flush of encouragement and validation for her feelings.
“It’s just the last thing I have of hers. It has her voice on it … And when you miss someone that much, sometimes, you need to hear that,” Mara shared with CBC Vancouver News with tears in her eyes.
From Two to Hundreds
Within days, the adventure and saga of finding her beautiful Build-A-Bear had turned from two people looking for it to hundreds. Eventually, the news caught hold Mara’s heart-warming story, and it spread like wildfire.
Not just that, but after Mara reported the incident and tried to get to the bottom of it, her new apartment complex manager sought out the surveillance footage from that day. Surprisingly enough, it was revealed that a thief stole her bag and was caught on camera! The footage was then released to the public to help Mara find the culprit.
The more that Mara posted, the more involved the community got. She even made an e-mail specifically for the cause so that anyone could contact her about the whereabouts of her backpack and personal belongings or new information about Mamabear.
“Please please please! If anyone has info, DM me or email [email protected] ! I have filed a police report, they have contacted my building and got the video footage and are circulating the suspect’s images,” Mara tweeted.
Between Mumbai Local and the Junction
As soon as Mara had gotten hold of the surveillance footage, she rushed back to the online community.
“There is footage of him going through the alleyway in between Mumbai Local and the Junction. The owner of Mumbai Local has been kind enough to show us this footage where we can clearly see the suspect with my bag!! Now we know where he went, maybe he pitched the bag in this area?” Mara tweeted.
But the people of the Internet weren’t the only ones who started to get invested in the search.
The Heart-Breaking Hunt Makes the News
Mara’s story caught so many people’s attention that the local news decided to jump in and help out, too! A few days from the beginning of this whole saga, Deborah Goble, a reporter from CBC TV and Radio in Vancouver, tweeted about the heart-breaking hunt.
“If you see this missing bear in the west end please email [email protected] It was in a Herschel back pack when stolen along with an iPad. Mara, the owner says it has her mom’s voice inside saying, ‘I love you I’m proud of you, I’ll always be with you. Her mom died last year,” the local newswoman tweeted.
But Deborah Goble wasn’t the only Canadian celebrity who was keen on helping.
A Hero On & Off-Screen
As soon as the story hit the news, one of Canada’s finest decided to step in and help.
The one and only Ryan Reynolds were so touched by this story that he offered up a personal cash reward for whoever could return the beloved and cuddly teddy bear to Mara.
“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 tweeted. Talk about a hero on and off the screen!
“I’m Unbelievably Grateful”
It’s incredible to see how people come together during the direst times. Mara was blown away by the fact that one of Hollywood’s A-listers not only cared enough to share the story but even put out a cash reward for her sentimental teddy bear.
“I’m so unbelievably grateful for the exposure boost that [Reynolds] brought to this kind of story. And it is just unbelievable that someone like him would take notice on someone like me … I’m unbelievably grateful,” Mara shared with CBC Vancouver News.
Pending and Richards
Between Mara’s moving updates and posts, the covered news story by the delightful Deborah Goble, and the great Ryan Reynold’s tweet, the information quickly reached thousands of people. How incredible!
Not just that, but with the e-mail account that Mara had set up, they were able to receive some clues that would lead them closer and closer to the culprit.
“Update! Just received a tip that someone may have been kicking a teddy bear around a parking lot near Pender and Richards. On our way there now to look. Thank you for spreading the word!!! Every share, every retweet really helps!!” Mara eagerly tweeted.
Ante Up, Canada
Ryan Reynolds wasn’t the only card player at the table. Along with him was another local Canadian celebrity and company who decided to spice up the pot! Both Canada’s Kraft Peanut Butter and media personality George Stroumboulopoulos added $5,000 to the cash rewards, making the find for Mamabear worth $15,000 total. Can you believe it? Talk about some community love!
“It means just everything to me honestly … There was a part of me that thought I’d never see it again, for sure. It’s a big city, there were so many places she could have been, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” Mara shared with Edition CNN.
Was All This Enough?
Mara was so close to losing hope; however, in a matter of days, everything changed thanks to the lovely Canadian community and the support from people all around the world on the Internet.
“I am overwhelmed by Vancouver coming together right now. Thank you for giving me hope, Vancity,” Mara shared in a tweeted.
But was this enough to find Mamabear?
Just a few days later, Mara updated the whole world about the situation with a big surprise leaving her speechless and tears.
Another Win for Technology
Since Mara’s iPad was one of the stolen items in her bag, she contacted Apple in hopes that she could track and find all of her belongings, including the marvelous Mamabear.
The whole saga started on July 24, 2020, and by July 27, 2020, Mara was ready to share an update with the world.
“UPDATE: iPAD FINALLY ONLINE! AT 2PM TODAY! Was so busy speaking with reporters today I hadn’t checked in a while!!”
Talk about another win for technology!
And that wasn’t the only company that Mara was able to get a little bit of help from, though.
Build-A-Bear Building Up More Hope
“Build-a-bear got in contact with me and so did Herschel about replacing the things that were taken. I know it won’t be the same bear that my mom made with her own hands, but now it’ll remind me of her AND the time the world came together for us for a few days,” Mara tweeted.
At that point, all of the excitement, stress, and up and downs was a lot for Mara to take in. She was so overwhelmed by how much support, love, and care she got from everyone within just a week, that she decided it was finally time to take a day off from the hunt and rest.
Little did she know that a little R&R would be just what she needed.
Time to Take a Break
On July 28, 2020, Mara had decided that it was time to take a break from the heart-heavy hunt and focus on resting. She wasn’t just exhausted from the whole emotional situation of losing Mamabear; she was wiped out from the entire moving process she and Richard had pulled through that week. On top of that, she was still working full time, too.
But the very next day, even more good news headed her way. It turns out that someone who watched the surveillance footage recognized the thief who had stolen her bag, and immediately sent that info her way!
Two Good Samaritans
As soon as she got word about the suspect of the culprit, she immediately went to investigate. And little did she know, she would soon again be reunited with her precious teddy bear.
That’s right! After a rollercoaster of a week, Mara had finally found her Mamabear and was retrieved her ASAP!
The two “good Samaritans,” as Mara put it, had returned Mamabear to her safe and sound and without a scratch. Talk about heartwarming and incredible! Who would’ve, though?
Tear Jerks & Waterworks
The only thing still missing was the iconic glasses that were the mini teddy bear was wearing, but that was something that Mara was more than happy to compromise on.
The instant she saw Mamabear, her heart stopped, and the waterworks started. She just couldn’t believe that she was found.
“I’m not gonna lie, I kind of buckled … As soon as I saw (him) pull her out of the bag my knees just buckled. I just started sobbing and I grabbed her out of his hands and I couldn’t let her go,” Mara confessed to The Canadian Press. Talk about tear-jerking!
A Possible Pessimist Turned Optimist
Mara was blown away by the fact that Mamabear was safely back in her arms. Her eyes filled with tears, and her heart filled with warmth about the whole situation. It looks like the dimmed light at the end of the tunnel was there all along.
“I’m a bit of a pessimist, and even though I try to be optimistic, I kind of counted it as a loss. In all honesty, I didn’t think she would come back. But she did, she did! I guess I was proven wrong!” Mara shared with CNN Edition.
“My Mom Was the Best Person I Ever Knew”
Words of hope and inspiration weren’t the only thing that Mara had to say about the situation. She also enlightened everybody on how much she’s learned through the experience and how happy she is to be a part of such an incredible community.
She even was reminded about a few more things about her mother. “My mom was the best person I ever knew. She was so unbelievably kind, and so unbelievably generous. She probably wouldn’t even be mad at the guy who took the bag, she would probably just please ask kindly for the bear back,” Mara emotionally expressed with CBC Vancouver News.
Through all the hoops and loops Mara had to jump through to get to her Mamabear, there’s no doubt that this retrieval story is one that she will keep in her heart forever.