HELENA, Mont. — It took a year, but a 6-year-old adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage was finally reunited with her teddy bear.
Naomi Pascal lost “Teddy” in Montana’s Glacier National Park, according to an Oct. 7 Facebook post by park officials. She received the stuffed animal before she was adopted in 2016 by Ben and Addie Pascal, according to The Associated Press.
The child and the bear were inseparable, Ben Pascal said.
So when Teddy was lost along a hiking trail at the park on Oct. 9, 2020, the child, then 5, was distraught over losing her best friend.
“This wasn’t just any stuffed animal. This stuffed animal had been with her through so much and was so important,” Ben Pascal told The Washington Post. “We were just holding out hope that Teddy was somewhere along the trail.”
By the time family members realized the toy was missing, it was too late to return to the park to conduct a search, since snowy weather forced parts of the park to close, People reported. Pascal family friend Terri Hayden reported the bear missing to park officials, according to the AP.
“I’m a woman of faith,” Hayden told the AP. “And that morning I said, ‘OK Lord, if this bear is around, please put that bear in my path and let me come home with that bear today.’”
Hayden’s prayers were answered.
The Wyoming girl was reunited with her Teddy thanks to the care of a bear specialist who found the toy and helped him “hibernate” for the winter, the Post reported.
“I just didn’t want this teddy bear to be thrown out,” Tom Mazzarisi, a ranger at Glacier National Park, told the newspaper.
Mazzarisi found the bear covered in snow several days after Naomi Pascal lost it, according to the Post.
“It was kind of odd as the bear was kind of beat up and weathered-looking. It looked like it had been there for a while instead of a day or two,” Mazzarisi, 49, told the newspaper. “There was something about the bear. You just kind of had a feeling there was a backstory somewhere.”
Mazzarisi adopted the bear and named it Caesar, placing it on the dashboard of his white pickup truck.
It was a perfect little “mascot” and conversation piece, Mazzarisi told the AP.
On June 16, 2021, Addie Pascal posted a plea on Facebook for help finding the toy, saying: “He’s been by her side for so many milestones. But there are many more adventures to be had!”
When Hayden’s family went to Glacier National Park two months ago, she decided to check lost-and-found sites and the trail where Teddy was last seen, according to the AP.
Hayden and her niece soon spotted the bear on the dashboard of Mazzarisi’s truck.
“I run up to these rangers and I’m hyperventilating,” Hayden told the AP. “And I’m going, ‘There’s a truck down at the trailhead and there’s a bear sitting on the dashboard.’”
Mazzarisi got a text message from a colleague telling him what had happened and how he had given Hayden the bear, the Post reported.
While initially “a little bummed,” Mazzarisi said he was “super excited” once he learned about the history of the teddy bear.
Mazzarisi shipped the bear to Naomi Pascal, and Hayden bought the ranger another stuffed bear, which he named Clover, according to the AP.
“I was so happy, especially hearing the story about the bear,” Mazzarisi told the Post. “You could make a movie out of all the little things that could have gone right or wrong -- we could have ignored it as it sat underneath the snow and disappeared, an animal could have run off with it. It seems simple, but it really isn’t.”
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