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How YouTube Helped a California Man Find His Father for the First Time

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Ian Maddox

Bryan Lanning can most definitely be called a family man, but the YouTube star went over two decades without ever knowing his father.

“I don’t have a really big family, it’s just my mom, my sister and me,” says Lanning, who is featured in the current issue of PEOPLE. “I didn’t know my dad when I was growing up.”

But all that changed when Lanning, 26, opened up about his family history on YouTube, where he and his wife Missy have documented their long journey to starting a family.

“One day, we vlogged about the fact I didn’t know my dad and almost instantly we were contacted by Troy Dunn, who is the locator for Oprah,” Lanning says of how his life changed in 2014. “He said our viewers had reached out asking for him to help. He did some work and reached out and I was able to meet my dad.”

For more from the Lannings – including how Missy’s diligent monitoring of her third pregnancy led to the “miracle” birth of their son Oliver – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

Now, Lanning is focused on his own role as a father to Ollie, 3, and Finn, 9 months.

“Missy and I both grew up with very little money, but now we can do things for our family because we followed our passion,” says Lanning, who was a server and wedding videographer before quitting his job to work on his family’s YouTube channels and now has a burgeoning music career. “We feel so blessed to be able to do that. Ollie got to go to the premiere of Zootopia! It’s amazing that we can offer him such cool things. It’s really cool to be able to provide our kids with that.”