Bridget Hughes wants her mother's hat back for Christmas and is relying on social media for the miracle.
The 23-year-old lost the hat on Sunday after a frantic time at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport where she found out her flight home was cancelled and had to scramble to make hotel arrangements.
"I used the hat to cover my face to take a nap while I was waiting for the flight," Hughes told the New York Daily News.
"Somewhere in between the airport gate and the hotel I must have just set the hat down. I realised it the next morning when I went to put it on."
The brown hat is a special part of Hughes' life. It belonged to her mother who wore it while battling breast cancer when Hughes was a youngster.
"She started losing her hair due to the chemo treatments,” Hughes said. "She and my aunt went on a shopping trip to get some hats she could cover her head with to keep warm. This was one of them. She wore it all through her chemo treatments."
"She would pop it up over her glasses and joke that it was the Indiana Jones look. I think she used to pull the flap up and down to be silly and to make me laugh.”
Her mother was wearing the hat in one of the last Christmas pictures Hughes took with her.
Her mother died in 1997 in her second battle with cancer. Hughes was seven years old.
Years later, her aunt gave her the hat when she graduated from college.
"It was the only possession of hers I could constantly carry with me,'' she says on her Facebook page.
"No matter where I’ve gone, if I’ve been hiking – I wore it to a friend’s wedding – that hat has gone with me,”"Hughes said.
"It’s one of the few things I can really carry with me. It has been very comforting to me at times because I feel connected with my mother."
She said she was kicking herself for having lost it and had taken to Facebook in the hope someone in her network might be able to help.
"In all of the chaos that ensued...I lost one of the most valuable things I own," she wrote on Facebook.
"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."
She wasn't expecting much, but her message mushroomed and has now had more than 60,000 shares.
People from all over the United States have pledged to keep an eye out, and the airport’s Facebook page sent her a message promising to have its Lost and Found department get in touch.
"I guess I just wanted to see what God would do with it, and he’s done a lot more with it than I ever expected," she said.
"It’s been really amazing.''
"Even if I don’t get the hat back, as cheesy as it may sound, it’s given me a lot of hope for people and knowing that they still have empathy for one another and that people are thoughtful and caring and kind. If nothing else, I feel immensely blessed by this already."
- © Fairfax NZ News