From WRIL -
(Pictured - the replacement bear / Brian O'Brien - WRIL and Cynthia Dodson - Goodwill)
In mid-April of this year an incident made its way to WRIL about an accidental donation to Goodwill of Tazewell. It was that of a Build-A-Bear belonging to a 4-year-old girl that contained a recording of her mother's heartbeat who had passed away.
A sign was placed at Goodwill a short time after the father of the little girl came into the Tazewell location asking the manager if the bear was still at the store, finding out it was not.
We were sent a picture of the sign and pictures that resembled the bear shortly afterward and after verifying the incident, we posted the information on Facebook. The post gained over 2.5 million views and an incredible outpouring of compassion for the return of the bear, including rewards and those who believed they may have recently bought it.
Communications Director Cynthia Dodson of Goodwill in Knoxville told us that they answered hundreds of calls and messages from people all over the country asking to help in trying to identify and find the bear.
WRIL UPDATE: During the search, the Build-A-Bear company contacted WRIL asking for a description and/or any identifying information they could use to offer a replacement. Build-A-Bear Public Relations Director Jamie Ludwig told us they were heartbroken to hear the news about the missing Rainbow Sparkle Bear in Tazewell.
She went on to say that the team at the warehouse (otherwise known as the “Bearhouse”) located a matching Rainbow Sparkle Bear and they could add the original recording, provided to WRIL by the child’s grandmother, to the new bear.
Build-A-Bear then shipped the new bear with the recording to the radio station and, to protect the anonymity of the child and her father, we met with Cynthia Dodson to have her then meet with them to receive it. The father of the girl has told us on several occasions that he is extremely grateful for the overwhelming effort put into trying to help his family.
Both Build-A-Bear and Goodwill remain hopeful that the original bear will be located. Ludwig added that it is their sincere wish that this new teddy bear will provide a bit of comfort for the child and the family at this time.
Cynthia Dodson added: "We extend our gratitude to Build-A-Bear Company and WRIL Radio for their efforts in providing a matching Rainbow Sparkle bear with the heartbeat of the 4-year-old child’s late mother placed in the new bear. Goodwill Industries-Knoxville is grateful for the outpouring of support in trying to locate the original bear that was accidentally donated. The new bear has been reunited with the family."
If you believe you have purchased this bear or have been given it as a gift, please contact the Tazewell Goodwill.