After 24 years, Chinese parents who never gave up the search for their missing daughter were finally reunited with her in a story that has captured hearts all over the world.

In 1994, Wang Mingqing and his wife Liu Dengying were working as fruit vendors in the city of Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province, when their three-year-old daughter Qifeng vanished. Local media reported that the couple had turned their attention to finding change for a customer and when they returned their daughter was missing from the stand.

The worried couple, who have another daughter and son, took out ads in local newspapers, put up missing person signs, and worked with police in an effort to find their young daughter. They refused to move away from Chengdu in the hopes Qifeng would one day find her way home, according to Chinese media outlets.

In 2015, Wang took a job as driver for a ride-hailing company so that he could expand his search. He pasted a sign appealing for information about his daughter’s whereabouts on the rear window of his car. He also handed out cards with details about Qifeng along with a photo of his other daughter, who resembled her, to all of his passengers.

China Global Television Network reported that Wang had told more than 17,000 customers about his daughter’s disappearance during his work as a driver.

Eventually, the story of Wang’s tireless search was shared online and went viral. Wang made a tearful appeal to his daughter to return home in a video shared by China Plus News.

“I’ve been searching for you for so many years. It really broke my heart,” Wang said in the video. “My daughter, come and see me.”

Wang blamed “merciless” human traffickers for his daughter’s disappearance in the video and explained that he never abandoned her.

A new hope

At the end of last year, a police sketch artist in Shandong Province came across Wang’s story and offered to draw two sketches of what Qifeng might look like as an adult, Chinese media reported.

The sketches were widely circulated and a woman named Kang Ying living on the other side of the country in the northeastern province of Jilin stumbled across them online. She noticed they looked “surprisingly” like her, according to China Plus News. The woman had grown up in a village not far from Chengdu and was raised by adoptive parents.

Kang Ying reached out to Wang and the pair arranged to take a DNA test. On Sunday, Wang received the news he had been waiting so long to hear – his daughter had been found.

Two days later, Kang Ying, her husband, and her two children flew to Chengdu to reunite with her parents. The emotional reunion at the airport was captured on camera by local news outlets and well-wishers who showered the family with flowers.

Photos from the occasion showed a tearful Kang Ying hugging her family as a crush of photographers surrounded them.

In a social media post earlier this week, Wang thanked the public for their help in locating his missing daughter.

“My efforts of 24 years were not wasted! My daughter has been found - thank you everyone,” he wrote.