Happy Stories

A Park Ranger and Friend Helped Reunite a Little Girl With Her Beloved Teddy Bear, One Year Later

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When 6-year-old Naomi Pascal lost her beloved teddy bear in Glacier National Park, everyone thought he was gone forever. But luckily, Teddy had been rescued by Ranger Tom Mazzarisi, who lovingly watched over him for a year … until a chance bear sighting got the teddy back to Naomi!

Teddy, wearing his Glacier Ranger badge
Teddy, wearing his Glacier Ranger badgeJH Fusion Photography

The Loss of Her Favorite Teddy

“Daddy, where’s Teddy?” 6-year-old Naomi called from the back of the minivan.

“I’m sure he’s here somewhere,” Ben Pascal said, and pulled off the highway to search for his daughter’s cherished furry pal.

While his wife, Addie, enjoyed some alone time, the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, dad had taken their three kids to visit family friends Terri and Paul Hayden in Big Fork, Montana. The group had spent the October 2020 day at nearby Glacier National Park.

“Are you sure she had Teddy?” Terri asked, after they’d searched the minivan without finding the bear. “She carries him every where,” Ben said.

Ben and Addie had given Teddy to Naomi before they even met her.

The Story of Teddy

“This is for you,” an Ethiopian orphanage worker slipped the stuffed bear into 6-month-old Naomi’s crib. “Your new mom and dad want you to know they love you and are coming as soon as they can.”

It took a year to complete the adoption process, but finally, in July 2016, they brought Naomi home, Teddy nestled in her arms.

Naomi, holding Teddy, in orphange with adoptive mom, Addie
Adoptive mom Addie holds Naomi in orphanage, who holds TeddyAddie Pascal

Now, at the thought of never seeing her beloved stuffed animal again, Naomi cried herself to sleep that night and the next. Terri called the lost and found department, but no one had turned him in.

Addie took to Facebook to get help. “I know the odds are against finding him,” she wrote, having posted a plea to a Friends of Glacier Facebook group. But still, she called on the group members to be on the lookout.

One woman had actually seen Teddy sitting on a rock and had even taken his picture! But kids were nearby and she thought the bear belonged to them. People promised to keep a lookout and others offered to buy Naomi a new bear. But no bear could ever replace Teddy in the little girl’s heart.

The Lost and Found

Meanwhile, as fall gave way to winter and the park prepared to close for the season, park ranger Tom Mazzarisi began checking trails — collecting trash and pulling up signs.

“What’s this?” he said, plucking the furry bear out of a puddle. The park’s policy is to toss anything found with little value. But this time, for some unexplainable reason, that didn’t feel right to Tom.

Ranger Tom Mazzarisi, who found Teddy and took him on as his mascot
Ranger Tom Mazzarisi, who found Teddy and took him on as his mascotAmy Mazzarisi

Tom named the bear Caesar and let him hibernate in his cabin that winter. Come spring, Tom sat Caesar on his pickup’s dashboard, and together, they patrolled the park.

Then, one September day in 2021, friends of the family, Terri and Paul, returned to Glacier. And, remembering Naomi’s tears, Terri whispered a prayer.

“Dear God, if Teddy is ever meant to be found, please, put him in my hands today.”

Incredible Luck

Before setting out on their hike, Terri checked the lost and found, but Teddy wasn’t there. Another disappointment soon followed: Her favorite trail was closed due to grizzly activity.

Sighing, they turned around — and that’s when she saw it. A park ranger’s pickup with a tiny, furry face peeking through the windshield. “Teddy!” she cried. No one was in the truck. Terri snapped a photo and texted Addie, who quickly replied, “Yes, it’s Teddy!”

Spotting a group of rangers, Terri dashed over and shared the story of the little girl who still cried at the mention of her bear’s name.

Tom, who they explained had found the bear, was off, and another ranger was using his pickup. She was out tracking grizzlies. But when her shift ended, and after calling Tom to break the news, one of the rangers delivered Teddy to the Haydens, who had bought Tom another bear at the gift shop. The next day, Terri FaceTimed with Naomi, and when she held up Teddy, she got the best response: “You found him!” Naomi exclaimed, a huge smile lighting her face.

Naomi learning Teddy had been found
Naomi learning Teddy had been foundPaul Hayden

Soon, Teddy was back in Naomi’s arms — right where he belongs, according to Ranger Tom. “The other rangers called it bad news when I had to return Teddy. But to me, it was good news. A little girl and her beloved bear are back together. That’s so cool.”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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