Discuss as:

Sisters, separated for 17 years, find each other at high school track meet

Robin Jeter and Jordan Dickerson both grew up in Washington, D.C., in separate families that lived miles apart. They knew they had other family members, but never met one another – until ending up at the same track competition. NBC's Ron Mott reports.

By Ron Mott, Correspondent, NBC News

WASHINGTON – Their similarities are striking, but teenagers Robin Jeter, 18, and Jordan Dickerson, 17, grew up quite differently in the nation’s capital.

They’re smart, pretty and fashion-forward. Both teens are also athletically inclined and have double jointed thumbs they can contort onto the palms of their hands.

But Robin, a senior at Friendship Collegiate Academy in northeast Washington, D.C., grew up in foster care, moving from one home to another until stability finally came her way.

“I only grew up with my one brother, that's all I’d known,” she said.

A few miles away, Jordan, a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School in the Northwest section of the city, was raised as an adopted only child, something her mom never hid.

“Her telling me I was adopted really wasn't that big of a deal,” Jordan said. “I just wanted to know more about it, I was really curious ... She told me that there was a possibility that I did have a sister, but you know, the information wasn't crystal clear.”

What’s clear is that these two young women met under remarkable circumstances in perhaps the most unlikely of places.

'She looked just like you!'

In January, at an indoor high school track meet, one of Jordan’s teammates was watching a girls’ race, cheering enthusiastically.

“I said, ‘Go Jordan, Go Jordan!’" William Carson recalled.

That is, until he realized he was rooting for an opponent. When she crossed the finish line, William realized it wasn’t Jordan after all.

“Jordan was up like 10 feet away from me [in the bleachers]. She was looking at me, like, ‘Who is he talking to?’ And I was like, ‘She looked just like you!’”

The momentary confusion was soon cleared up by another student, Laniyyah Elam, who’d attended elementary school with Robin but was now a schoolmate of Jordan’s at Woodrow Wilson High School.

“I know that girl!” she said. “Her name is Robin Jeter.”

Jordan started to cry. She knew her birth name was also Jeter.

“I escorted her off to the bathroom,” Laniyyah said. “I asked her what was going on, and she told me that that was her sister, because she knew the last name. And I was, like, ‘Oh, wow. Do you want me to introduce you to her?’ Later on, after the meet was over, I told Robin to come up and they met each other.”

Separated by a few miles and 17 long years, the sisters awkwardly began what quickly developed into a comfortable, familiar, strong relationship -- with nary a trace of a sibling rivalry forming.

“I couldn't even say anything,” Robin said of the initial face-to-face conversation at the track meet.

“The only thing I could say was, ‘You know, we look a lot alike,’” Jordan countered.

After several months of getting to know one another—spending many weekends together and, soon, prom night—the sisters look as though they were never apart. They often finish one another’s sentences. Robin lovingly shoos away a fly from her sister’s hair. And in those moments, when they’re in each other’s company, physical contact seems irresistible, as if to suggest they fear ever losing grip on their suddenly discovered treasure.