GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — A year ago this October, young Naomi Pascal lost her favorite toy, Teddy, while hiking with her family on Hidden Lake Trail in Glacier National Park.
“Pretty much almost back to Bigfork and we realized, I think Naomi was the one that realized Teddy was missing,” said Naomi's dad, Ben Pascal.
Teddy was no average bear, holding deep significance to Naomi as he was the first gift she received from her new family before being adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage in 2016.
“Yeah, we have lots of pictures of her getting the bear and that was definitely her first toy and so it was really special that she was able to have that until we were able to go and meet her in person,” said Naomi's mom, Addie Pascal.
After a big snowstorm, Glacier National Park Ranger Tom Mazzarisi stumbled upon Teddy while out on patrol.
“On our way up, I noticed this little Teddy bear kind of with still snow melting off it, a little bit off the trail."
Despite being weathered from the storm, Ranger Mazzarisi decided to hold on to Teddy and placed him on his patrol car dashboard, dignifying Teddy his vehicle's unofficial mascot.
“Perfect little spot, sat upright looking out the front windshield,” said Ranger Mazzarisi.
For close to a year, Teddy sat proudly front and center on the patrol car dashboard, helping keep a watchful eye out for bears and other wild animals.
“Over 5,000 miles I would think, a lot of time driving back and forth and spent a lot of time with bears, this probably in my career in the park service including Yellowstone has been the busiest year for bears." - Glacier National Park Ranger Tom Mazzarisi
Fast forward to last week, a family friend of the Pascals happened to be hiking in Glacier National Park and noticed Teddy sitting on a patrol car dashboard.
“They just happened upon this ranger truck randomly and her niece saw Teddy in the dashboard, and they texted a picture of Teddy to my wife, Addie, and said, 'Is this the bear?' And she’s like, 'Yeah!'” said Ben.
Soon after, Ben and Addie broke the news to Naomi that Teddy was coming home
“I felt excited because I didn’t know I was going to ever see him again,” said Naomi.
A few days later, Teddy was express-mailed to the Pascal family home in Jackson, Wyoming, back in Naomi’s loving arms where he belongs.
“You got just like a little bit excited I think, just like a tiny bit excited. She was like jumping up and down she was so excited,” said Addie.
Ranger Mazzarisi said he was more than happy to keep Teddy company this last year.
He hopes to meet Naomi in person one day for a Teddy reunion back in Glacier National Park.
“But it would be great to just talk to her and her family and just kind of tell them some stories from our travels together last year,” said Ranger Mazzarisi.
This story was originally published by Sean Wells at KPAX.