CEO apologizes after Wake County mom denied Build-A-Bear experience

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake County couple, grieving the death of their infant, said they were stunned when Build-A-Bear Workshop rejected their request to build a bear in her memory during the company's Pay Your Age promotion.

Ashley Guevara and Joey Duvall, of Knightdale, buried their youngest daughter, six-month-old Dahlia, on Monday.

Guevara said her baby, born with a rare genetic disease, died last Thursday of complications from pneumonia.

That same day, Guevara learned she received one of the coveted tickets to Build-A-Bear's Pay Your Age promotional event at Crabtree Valley Mall where instead of paying full price for your stuffed animal, customers pay their age.

"She was finally out of the hospital so we were really excited to have an experience with both of our daughters," Guevara said.

But that experience as a family of four would never come.

After Dahlia's death, Guevara posted to Build-A-Bear's Facebook page, asking if she could still use her ticket to build a bear in memory of Dahlia.

The company said no.

Apologizing for her loss and directing her back to their ticket policy online, the company told her, "This is designed to be an in-store experience for our Guests. Therefore, the Guest must be present to pay their age."

"To me, it just felt like they wanted us to dig her up out of ground and bring her there," said Duvall.

Social media backlash ensued; people calling Build-A-Bear's response "horrible" and "appalling," with some vowing to never shop at the store again.

That's when Build-A-Bear commented once more, asking Guevara to contact them privately.

On Tuesday, Build-A-Bear's CEO called Guevara to apologize.

In an email to ABC11, a spokesperson sent the following statement:

"Our CEO has spoken directly with the mother, Ashley Guevara, and expressed our regret for our original online response. We are working with the family to find a time when they can visit our store for a personal - and hopefully special - complementary experience at a time that is convenient for them." - Dorrie Krueger, Chief Strategy Officer

It's all Guevara said she wanted- the chance to build a bear in memory of her daughter.

"It would mean the world to us," said Guevara. "It would just be a piece of her that we would have forever. So we can have a little Dahlia with us, always."
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