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Man and woman who forged a 20-year friendship after a wrong call meet in person for the first time

A pair of unlikely friends have met in person for the first time after a phone call to the wrong number connected them 20 years ago.

Gladys Hankerson, now 80, from Delray Beach, Florida, was trying to call her sister, who lives in Maryland, one day when she dialed the wrong number by a single digit, according to WPBF.

The phone call, which was entered with the area code 401 instead of 410, was answered by Mike Moffitt, 46, from Rhode Island - at which point Hankerson realised her mistake and hung up.

However, the error wouldn’t be the last time that the pair spoke, as Moffitt told the outlet that Hankerson repeatedly dialed his number instead of her sister’s.

“‘Oh sweetheart, I’ve got the wrong number,’ she said, and hung up real quick, she did that a couple of times that day, next week the same thing, maybe next month,” Moffitt recalled, adding that each time, he would answer the call.

After a series of incorrectly dialed phone calls, Moffitt decided to keep Hankerson on the phone to chat and find out more about her.

“I was like: ‘Hey, if you’re going to keep calling, let’s chat,’” he toldCNN of his initial attempt at a conversation with Hankerson.

During the phone call, the pair spoke candidly about their lives, with Hankerson revealing that she was divorced and had just lost her son.

Speaking to WPBF, she said that Moffitt “talked real nice to me and I talked real nice to him, and after that, I had his phone number and I put it down on paper and I always called him”.

“During that time I was downhearted, and he felt my sympathy and lifted me up, he was real nice you know,” Hankerson added.

According to Moffitt, the pair kept in contact from that point on, as he told CNN that they would talk every few months. However, that changed this Thanksgiving, when he decided while visiting Florida with his family to surprise his longtime friend in person.

After purchasing some flowers to bring, Moffitt described to the outlet how he’d knocked on Hankerson’s door and introduced himself, at which point he was greeted enthusiastically by his friend.

“I walked in and said: ‘Gladys, it’s Mike from Rhode Island!’ and she said: ‘Oh, my friend Mike! I’m blessed,’ and threw her arms up,” Moffitt told CNN of their first in-person introduction.

Hankerson also reflected on the meeting fondly, as she told WPBF that she wishes more people could be like Moffitt, who she said she considers a family member.

“I wish more people could be like that you know, that would be so nice, the world would be better too, people would be better,” Hankerson said of Moffitt’s kindness throughout all these years.

The heartwarming story of the pair’s two-decade friendship, which Moffitt recently recounted on Facebook alongside a selfie taken during their first meeting, has since moved thousands of people.

“Awesome! The world needs more of this,” one person commented on the viral post, while another said: “I absolutely love this story. I think they were supposed to be friends in this life. And even if they weren’t, they just decided to be. Fantastic. We need so much more of this.”

Someone else added: “A wonderful testimony of kindness leading to friendship.”