A New York City nurse went on a mission to give an elderly couple a photo he took of them on the subway last week. Blake Ricker, who took the picture, turned to social media to find them — and eventually did. The photo, which went viral, shows the lovebirds in a heartwarming embrace during an evening commute.
Ricker told CBS News he was on his way to meet some friends for dinner when he noticed the pair's connection.
"The more you kept looking at them, the more you could see how in love that they were with each other," Ricker told CBS News on Thursday. "It was a special moment."
When he went home and started scrolling through his phone, Ricker realized how touching the photo was. His friends suggested to post the photo on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in hopes of reuniting the picture with the couple. He didn't think he would find them.
"Why not take the opportunity, to show something positive?" he said. "Helping brighten someone else's day really motivated me to hopefully meet them and give them the picture."
On July 17, he tweeted: "If anyone recognizes this sweet couple, please let me know. I'd love to send them a copy of this picture for them to have. Unfortunately my stop came and I was unable to send them it."
Ricker snapped the heartfelt picture on a Brooklyn-bound 1 train. The picture racked up 8,800 retweets and more than 19,000 "likes" on Twitter, with hundreds of commenters saying they want to help Ricker in his crusade.
"I'm going to be looking for them now. I take the 1 all the time, great pic!" said one Twitter user.
Others simply thanked Ricker for sharing the picture and wished him well in the search.
"Hi. Thank you for this. It really brightened my day. We all need things like this right now. I hope that you find them- Have a gorgeous day! x" wrote Fiona Adorno.
"I think this is beautiful! Reminds me of my parents. I hope you find them," a commenter named Pamela tweeted.
Eight days later, the photo got the attention of the couple's daughter-in-law, Karen Kettering Dimit, on Instagram.
"They are my in-laws, married 64 years, and this photo captures their relationship perfectly!" Karen wrote on the post Wednesday, adding the snapshot shows their determination to live NYC to its fullest because the family didn't want them to ride a subway.
Despite this, she said the couple doesn't want any more "publicity."
"They are extremely private, and not wanting to engage," Karen wrote. "Probably too late....but let your amazing photo be the story if possible. People can project their own fantasies into it."
While Ricker was glad to find them, he hopes to reach out and complete what he wanted to do in the first place once the hype dies down. Ricker, who is from Tennessee, says the photo embodies what New York City is all about.
"I liked that it capture it every single emotion in one shot, including the love between the two. It just really captures New York City at its best," he said. "With all the hustle and bustle, it just replaces the stigma of not being able to stop and cherish."