Persistence has paid off for Huang Yong, who experienced plenty of pain and frustration early in life.
He was born into an ordinary family in Qianshan, Anhui province, in 1980, but was diagnosed with hemophilia at the age of five. To treat the illness, his parents went deep into debt.
Huang's muscles then began to atrophy and his bones became deformed, meaning he will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Due to the debt and his physical condition, Huang dropped out of the education system after graduating from middle school.
"You can hardly imagine how difficult and painful it is to live like that," he said. "My life was all about suffering at that time, and I thought about giving up many times."
After he dropped out of school, he discovered that finding a job is not easy if you are disabled.
"My parents did everything they could to help me, but I felt like a loser," he said. "I could do nothing but stay at home for many years."
But as he grew older he realized he had to find a way to make a living. Huang opened a shop selling agricultural supplies in 2006, but it did not give him a good income. Due to a rent increase the following year, the business he so painstakingly ran ended in failure.
"The closure of that shop brought great grief to me," he said. "I received some encouragement and financial aid from outside, but what I really needed was something that could make me 'stand' on my own."
The turning point came with the arrival of the internet era. The explosive development of e-commerce in China not only offered Huang a great opportunity to change his life, but it also created a gateway for him to engage in society.
At the end of 2007, a friend suggested he open an online store. After raising some money from his relatives, Huang started to sell bedding such as pillows and quilts through Taobao, the e-commerce marketplace owned by Alibaba.
"It was not easy at the beginning," he said. "I was a total greenhorn in this field, so I had to start by learning how to turn on the computer.
"Even though it took me a long time to learn, as long as my mind is clear and my fingers can move, I believe I can overcome all the difficulties."
In the first few months, Huang did not have very good sales, but his eagerness to work and willingness to sacrifice pushed him to move forward. Huang worked from dawn to dusk trying to improve his management and sales skills.
"I have hundreds of products to sell and I memorized every feature of the products," he said. "As long as the customer has any questions, I will reply and deal with it, no matter how late it is. I think that is the reason why I earn the customers' trust."
Step by step, Huang's online store is getting bigger and bigger. His sales volume has rapidly increased from 200,000 yuan in 2008 to more than 4 million yuan ($597,000) last year. Not only has he paid off all his debts, but he has also bought a house.
Huang was awarded the nationwide poverty alleviation medal in 2016, becoming the only winner from Anhui.
"You cannot numb yourself with inspirational 'chicken soup' stories which only offers temporary relief," he said. "You need to move on and do something. When there is something you strive for, there is a way to change your life."