Fishers women living similar lives learn they are sisters

FISHERS, Ind. - Nia Hayes always knew she had a sister she never met.

Her late father, Lonnie Hayes, would tell her and her other five siblings about a girl named Lana he had from another marriage while looking at old photo albums he put together.

"A lot of times when we’d go through these photo albums, my siblings and I, and the ones we didn’t know would just zip through," Nia Hayes said.

One of those pictures Nia would skip over belonged to that of Lana Hayes.

Lana's mother and Lonnie divorced when she was a baby and Lana grew up with her mother and half sister in Rushville. She never met her father or any of her other siblings, until this week when a former high school classmate of hers and current coworker of Nia, Michael Hurst, pieced together the puzzle.

“It shouldn’t have happened," Hurst said. "There’s been times when I’m like, 'this story can’t get any better,' and then someone does something."

Hurst hadn't been on Facebook for years but got back on last week to promote the story of one of his best friends battling a terminal disease.

David Barkes is in his fifth year of battling ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. His movement is deteriorating and he'll soon be confined to wheel chair. Hurst started a youcaring campaign to help Dave and his family raise money to buy a van that will accommodate Dave's wheelchair in the near future.

Just a few days after getting back on Facebook, Hurst got a friend request from his old high school classmate, Lana.

“I hadn’t been on Facebook for two years and I'd been on three days and she friends me?" Hurst said.

Hurst recognized the eyes, the smile and the last names and starting putting two and two together.

He was quite persistent and kept questioning Lana if she had a sister Nia. Finally, Lana told Hurst to ask Nia if her dad was Lonnie Hayes.

"And my heart dropped, because that’s my dad’s name and at that point I knew this is it. This is her," Nia said

The sisters became Facebook friends Monday and met for the first time Tuesday.

“I think we just can’t stop looking at each other and laughing," Nia said.

Nia admitted she had some hesitations about meeting her new sister for the first time.

"You know I didn’t know how she would be. I didn’t know if she was nice, if she was mean, how she was raised so I had all these concerns," Nia said.

However, after a few minutes the two became sisters for life.

"It was wonderful. I’m glad that it happened this way," Lana said. “If you have an inkling (you may have family you haven't met out there) definitely reach out because life is so short. I truly believe this is a blessing for God that he put us together like this."

“I think it is just God intervening," Dave Barkes said, who ultimately could be credited for the two sisters meeting.

Nia and Lana are already planning family reunions so Lana can meet her five other new siblings.

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