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Redmond woman reunited with her biological father, with help from community

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(Update: video added)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ )-- A Redmond woman who has devoted her life to helping others in the Central Oregon community was on the receiving end this time, as she reconnected with her biological father after searching for many years.

Brianna Rushing, 29, and her family lives in Redmond, and she works with Pay it Forward Redmond, running the Facebook group for the past five years. She decided to start looking for her biological father, and thankfully, family and the Redmond community rallied around her in support.

Rushing told NewsChannel 21 on Friday she was almost 10 years old when she learned that the man she called "dad" was actually her stepfather.

"It was very difficult. He (her biological father) left my mom and started a new family," Rushing said. "Which made it even more hard."

Around the age of 13, Rushing said she took to Google to find any information she could about her biological father, only knowing his name, Cruz Hernandez.

Then, last Mother's Day, Rushing was given an Ancestry DNA kit by her mother and brother-in-law. She said when she got the results back, she went online to look for other people with the last name Hernandez. She said she "searched Facebook and got a lot of responses back."

Rushing described some of the family members she contacted as skeptical, saying they didn't know her father had any children.

"I finally got a phone number, then I was sent a Facebook link," Rushing said. "And it was to his Facebook, which was surreal, because I had searched his name so many times, and I didn't even know what the guy looked like. So when I finally got the link to his Facebook, we are like identical."

Rushing got a return phone call from Hernandez, and the father and daughter duo had their first video chat on June 28 -- Rushing's birthday.

Soon after connecting, Hernandez revealed he has prostate cancer, which prompted Rushing and her family to want to make a trip to Kansas to visit him.

Rushing said her friend created a GoFundMe page, to help her family raise the funds to go to Kansas. She said they raised nearly $2,000, and this was her first time leaving the state.

Rushing said her mother and father met in Kansas, and she also has an older brother who shares the same parents. She said shortly after she was born, her parents separated, and her father lost contact with their mother.

"We got about to Utah, when it finally hit me -- and I couldn't stop crying," Rushing said.

Rushing said she and her father are nearly the same height of five feet, and share other similar features.

Hernandez spoke with Rushing by Facebook video chat, saying he was happy they are able to build their relationship.

She said Hernandez instantly stepped into the "dad role," and now he calls her every day.

Rushing said she felt "relief. I spent so much time searching. I was married a few years ago, and I was blessed to have my two father-in-laws walk me down, but it would've been amazing if that was my father."

The Rushings' five-year wedding anniversary is coming up, and they plan to renew their vows -- this time, with her biological father present as well.

Rushing said she's also planning a big family dinner at her home this year, and plans to have both her parents in attendance.

Article Topic Follows: Family

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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