The incident seems common enough: A woman returning home from a Thanksgiving holiday loses a hat at an airport in the chaos resulting from a canceled flight.
But for 28-year-old Bridget Hughes of Las Cruces, N.M., the brown floppy hat from the Gap that she lost at Sky Harbor International airport in Phoenix was so much more than a hat.
So after retracing her steps from her hotel to the airport and not finding the hat, Hughes turned to social media for help in her search. And now the search has gone viral.
"My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was 7. This is the hat she wore most often during her chemo treatments. My aunt gave it to me when I moved away after I graduated from college. It was the only possession of hers I could constantly carry with me," she wrote on her Facebook page.
"I've turned it over to the power of social media, all for a hat that represents the fierce goofy independent spirit of a woman that is my mother. If anyone is willing to just share this status, I'll be really grateful."
As of Friday afternoon, Hughes' story had been shared more than 145,000 times on Facebook, receiving more than 22,000 "likes." Her Facebook page is filled with comments from well-wishers offering their encouragement.
Julie Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Sky Harbor International Airport, told ABC News that airport staff had been in touch with Hughes on Facebook and were working diligently to locate the wayward hat.
"Everyone here and our employees and volunteers are aware and are keeping an eye out for it," she said. "Our lost-and-found department has been in touch with the airline lost and found and the TSA lost and found, and everyone is keeping an eye out for the hat."
Rodriguez said she and the airport were continuing to receive calls from from people concerned about finding the hat, adding that the airport was able to typically return about a third of the 200 or so items turned into the lost and found every week.
"We have a very hardworking and conscientious lost and found staff," Rodriguez said.
Hughes updated her Facebook page to say how grateful she was for the outpouring of support, and that her life would go on even if she never recovered the hat.
"If the hat does not turn up, I will be sad, but my life will go on, and I will have been put in contact with all of you and your stories," she wrote on Facebook. For the kindness that you've shown me, thank you."