HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A little girl who lost a special teddy bear she’d had since being adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage thought it was gone forever when she forgot it along a trail in Glacier National Park last year.

Her family and friends believed that there was still hope for her.

Hope prevailed.

A social media appeal, the soft eyes of a ranger, and closing of a hike trail due to grizzly bear activity the day before a friend of the family visited the park resulted in Naomi Pascal, 6 years old, bringing the bear home from Jackson, Wyoming.

The bear’s return, which has earned 12,000 likes on the Glacier National Park Facebook page, is a beautiful story that resonates, said Ben Pascal, Naomi’s dad and the senior pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, a popular ski town south of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“It was just a story of hope and kindness and people just working together,” Pascal said. “It touched people’s hearts. It gave ’em hope. It made ’em feel like there is good in the world, which I believe there is.”

Before Naomi was adopted, Teddy was Ben and Addie’s first gift. Teddy went with her on family travels to Ethiopia and Rwanda as well as Croatia, Croatia, Greece, and Croatia.

Pascal brought his children to Montana with him in October 2020. Teddy joined the fun. Pascal, a friend and Terri Hayden, a family friend watched over the children while they went hiking in Glacier National Park. They were almost back to Hayden’s home in Bigfork that night when they realized they didn’t have Teddy.

Overnight, it snowed. This closed off the highest elevations of the park and prevented Hayden’s return to seek out Teddy. In the hope that someone would turn the bear in to an lost-and-found, she made a report to park authorities.

It wasn’t too long before Ranger Tom Mazzarisi, a bear specialist in Glacier, spotted the stuffed bear, soaking wet and sitting in melting snow near the Hidden Lake Trail while he and two others were doing some end-of-season work.

“Typically, items that aren’t worth much monetarily get thrown out,” Mazzarisi said. He was unaware the stuffed animal had been reported lost, but for some reason couldn’t bring himself to dump it in the trash.

Teddy “hibernated” in Mazzarisi’s cabin in St. Mary and when Mazzarisi returned to work in April he “immediately put him on the dash of my patrol truck.”

“It was a perfect little mascot” and conversation piece, Mazzarisi said.

Teddy had a busy spring and summer, watching wolves howl at each other and working “bear jams,” which are traffic jams caused by bears being near the road, Mazzarisi said.

In June, Addie Pascal posted a plea on Facebook for help finding Teddy, saying: “He’s been by her side for so many milestones. But there are many more adventures to be had!”

People replied with well wishes, and offered to buy replacement bears. One Michigan woman shared a picture she took with Teddy the day before it disappeared, claiming that it was her only sighting in the park.

Hayden, meanwhile, felt bad about the loss of Naomi’s special bear. When she went with some relatives to Glacier late September, Hayden shared her grief and asked them to stop by lost-and-found locations.

“I’m a woman of faith,” Hayden said. “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.’”

That’s exactly what happened when Hayden and her adult niece, a photographer with cancer, spotted a stuffed bear in a ranger’s truck after being turned back from a trail that was closed due to bear activity.

She snapped a photo and sent it to Addie, who confirmed that it was Teddy.

Unfortunately, the ranger’s truck was locked. It was Mazzarisi’s day off and another ranger who was working on the trail had the keys. The note was left on the vehicle by Mazzarisi and other rangers.

“I run up to these rangers and I’m hyperventilating,” Hayden said. “And I’m going, ‘There’s a truck down at the trailhead and there’s a bear sitting on the dashboard.’”

They were aware of the bear and confirmed its location. Soon, they returned Teddy and Hayden with a badge for junior park rangers and a ranger cap.

Naomi was thrilled to receive Teddy back from Hayden, and Hayden sent the bear to Naomi.

Hayden purchased another stuffed animal for Mazzarisi. Clover was named by Hayden because of the way she reminded him of a Yellowstone National Park grizzly bear that used to lie on his belly in clover patches and then eat.

Clover is wintering at Mazzarisi’s cabin in St. Mary. Next spring, she’ll ride in his truck.

This photo was taken by Ben Pascal. Naomi Pascal is five years old and holding her bear. She took the picture on October 20, 2020, while hiking to Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park. Naomi lost her bear on the hike. However, a park ranger found it and took it to Naomi. (Ben Pascal, via AP)
via Associated Press

Source: HuffPost.com.

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