As Brooke Fadeski and her dog, Olive, took a walk through Elm Grove Village Park in Wisconsin, she noticed a teddy bear floating in the pond. She then decided to post her discovery on Facebook to reconnect him with his rightful owner. But before she returned the bear, she decided to record his incredible journey – and captured all of it with her camera.
Two-year-old Henry Antczak has three siblings – a brother and two sisters – but it’s his black bear Blueberry he considers to be his best friend. “He does everything with him,” Henry’s mom, Catherine, told CBS 58.
So, when the family headed to Elm Grove Village Park in the fall of 2018, Blueberry came along. But the bear somehow got lost in the fray. Catherine and her children searched all the spots where they’d been that day, but there was no sign of him.
Catherine, who lives in Greenfield, Wisconsin, then sent her mom to look for Blueberry at the park. But she came up with nothing. “I pretty much gave up hope after that,” she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A few weeks later, Blueberry was still missing, but his fortunes were about to change. Mom-of-three Brooke Fadeski headed to Elm Grove Village Park to take a walk with her 12-year-old dog, Olive. She had just dropped the kids off at school.
“We stood there just staring out into the water pondering life, at least I was, and that’s when I saw a shadow in the water,” Brooke told CBS 58. She leaned in to examine the figure, which she said was “in one of the grossest parts of the pond.”
Brooke was quickly able to discern what the blurred shape beneath the water was. “There’s [this] teddy bear laying upright with just his muzzle sticking out and right below the water you could see his little paws,” she coninued.
Unfortunately, Blueberry wasn’t close enough to shore for Brooke to reach on her own. And she was unwilling to wade into the water to grab the bear, she admitted. “There was no way I was getting in…,” Brooke laughed as she told CBS 58.
With a long stick, Brooke “slowly dragged” Blueberry onto shore. And the poor bear was looking worse for wear. “He was covered in all sorts of mess,” Brooke said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Once Brooke fished Blueberry from the water, though, she found him to be just as charming as his young owner, Henry, did. “I stared at Mr Bear and just smiled. Somehow [he] just made my day,” she told the newspaper.
So, Brooke squeezed the pond water out of Blueberry, placed him into a plastic bag and brought him home. She then popped him into the washing machine. After a full wash-and-dry cycle, Blueberry looked as good as new.
With that, Brooke snapped a picture of Blueberry. She decided to post the image to a local Facebook group, hoping to reconnect him with his rightful owner. And it just so happened that Catherine’s sister saw the photo four hours later.
Catherine’s sister knew just who the bear belonged to, so she tagged the mom-of-four in the post. Catherine then saw the image. She told CBS 58, “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Blueberry.’ I think my heart skipped a beat.”
Catherine was touched by Brooke’s efforts to reunite Blueberry with her son. “I could not believe that she had found the ragged bear and taken the time to look for the owner. And clean [him] up to top it off,” she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But Brooke had one final surprise up her sleeve. She and Catherine settled on a time to meet so Blueberry could rejoin his family and best friend, Henry. And when mom and son arrived arrived, Brooke presented them with the bear and a journal called The Adventures of Blueberry and Henry.
Inside, Brooke had placed photos of Blueberry on an epic adventure during his time away from Henry. In one photo, he wore a pirate costume. In another, he read himself a book. He even snuggled up with Brooke’s dog, Olive, in one snapshot.
The journal contained stories from Blueberry’s point of view, too. One part described the start of the bear’s adventure. It said, “After I got lost in the park a while ago I made some friends with a duck family. They were nice but I was still hoping I’d get back to you.”
For Brooke, the idea for the journal sprouted from the joy that she was able to reunite Henry with Blueberry. She told CBS 58, “I think I was just so excited that the owner was found that I was like, ‘Okay, we need to make this a little bit more fun.”
In the future, Brooke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she envisions transforming the journal into a bona fide children’s book. In the meantime, Catherine said she looks forward to sharing Blueberry’s story. The original book is tucked away in Henry’s baby box, for him to read when gets a little bit older.
More importantly, though, Catherine said that Brooke’s efforts were a great example of people’s kindness. She said to CBS 58, “It will be something that we always remember. Just super heartwarming and just really restores your faith in humanity.”