An Ethiopian orphan has been reunited with the first toy she ever owned a year after losing it during a hike thanks to a very lucky coincidence.
Naomi Pascal, six, was adopted from an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2016 and now lives in Jackson, Wyoming, with her parents Benjamin, 44, and Adeline Pascal, 40.
The youngster lost her cuddly toy bear – named Teddy – while hiking Glacier National Park in Montana with her parents and two siblings on October last year.
It held deep sentimental value, with Adeline, a nurse, issuing a plea for its return on Facebook.
Amazingly, a local cop picked up the toy during a walk in the famed park, and put it on his cruiser dashboard – where friends of the Pascals spotted it last week, and alerted them to their discovery.
When Naomi was just one year old, before the Pascals had ever met her in person, they gifted her a teddy bear as a way for them to connect with their soon-to-be daughter.
Naomi Pascal (pictured with Teddy while at the Ethiopian orphanage), six, received a teddy bear from her soon-to-be parents in 2016 when she was just one year old living in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Naomi brought the bear with her to her now-home in Wyoming where she lives with her parents Benjamin (pictured with Naomi and her two siblings), 44, and Adeline Pascal, 40
The bear came to be known as Teddy and traveled all over the world with the Pascal family but last year, on a family trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, Teddy went missing
Glacier National Park Ranger Tom Mazzarisi (pictured) found the bear ‘somewhat covered in snow and the rest of him was soaked from the melting snow’. He had a soft spot for the bear and placed him on the dashboard of his cruiser to become his unofficial partner
Teddy (pictured on the dashboard) and Mazzarisi drove more than 5,000 miles since the park ranger found him that snowy day on October 9, 2020
The bear came to be known as Teddy and traveled all over the world with the Pascal family – from Ethiopia to the US, Rwanda, Croatia and Greece. Last year, on a family trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, Teddy went missing.
On October 9, 2020, the Pascals were hiking on Hidden Lake Trail when Naomi noticed that Teddy was nowhere to be found.
‘We finally realized that it was probably left at the spot where we took a break on the trial and were thinking that’s where it would be but by the time we knew about it it was too late to go back and get it,’ Benjamin told Yahoo News.
The next day, a big snowstorm rolled through the park and Glacier National Park Ranger Tom Mazzarisi found the bear ‘somewhat covered in snow and the rest of him was soaked from the melting snow’.
Mazzarisi told Yahoo that ‘the bear had character’.
‘There was something about that little bear that said: “Yeah, he needs to go ride in my patrol car.”‘
In a Facebook post Naomi’s mom Adeline asked friends for help finding Teddy. ‘Teddy is so special… He kept her company until she could come home for good. Since then he’s gone everywhere with her,’ the post read
Naomi noticed Teddy went missing after the Pascals stopped to rest and take a family photo. ‘By the time we knew about it it was too late to go back and get it,’ her father said
From that day Teddy sat on the park ranger’s dashboard. He attributed the soft spot he had for the stuffed animal to his lifetime love of bears. He told Yahoo about the teddy bear he had as a kid, which he said ‘looks almost identical to Teddy’.
The duo drove more than 5,000 miles together over the course of the year.
Mazzarisi even recalled of April 2, 2021: ‘We’re out patrolling Teddy and I and we saw wolves. And they don’t see wolves very often in the park.’
Meanwhile, Adeline posted on Facebook with a series of photos of her daughter holding the bear asking: ‘Can anyone help us find Teddy?’
‘Teddy is so special… He kept her company until she could come home for good. Since then he’s gone everywhere with her… He’s played in the desert sand and cuddled up on snowy days. He has snuggled her to sleep almost every night,’ the post read.
Naomi was reunited with Teddy after a family friend spotted the bear on the park ranger’s dashboard
Mazzarisi shipped Teddy home to Naomi complete with a star-shaped park ranger badge
The Pascals were hiking on Hidden Lake Trail in Glacier National Park (pictured) when Naomi noticed that Teddy was nowhere to be found
Naomi’s mother posted to Facebook asking for help finding Teddy. ‘There would be no greater joy than to reunite our daughter with her special furry friend,’ she wrote
It added: ‘If you happen to hike Hidden Lake this summer, or know someone who does, please keep an eye out for Teddy. There would be no greater joy than to re-unite our daughter with her very special furry friend.’
Months later a family friend of Naomi’s spotted Teddy inside the ranger’s cruiser and Mazzarisi sent Teddy to Naomi’s home in Wyoming complete with a star-shaped park ranger badge.
After a year without Teddy, Naomi was finally reunited with her favorite toy earlier this week, and hugged and kissed Teddy gratefully on being reunited.