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Response to ABC's Robin Roberts a reminder of TV's power to connect

The Baltimore Sun

"Good Morning America"  co-host George Stephanopoulos used the adjective "staggering" to describe the response to his on-air partner Robin Roberts' announcement this week that she has a blood disease and needs a bone marrow transplant.

In the 24 hours since that announcement on GMA, the number of bone marrow donors rose more than 1,000 percent, ABC News reports.

This is a story milllions of viewers will follow closely, and one takeaway from the response this week is a reminder of how deeply many of us come to care about the people we see day in and day out on TV. This seems to be especially true in morning television where there is an ongoing conversation between the hosts and their audience with personal aspects of the TV performers' lives shared.

Furthermore, the connection seems to deepen in direct proportion to the respect viewers have for the people onscreen. I believe Roberts is as liked and respected as anyone since Katie Couric on "Today."

Here's how Stephanopolous, who was sitting in for Diane Sawyer at the anchor desk, reported the story Tuesday night:

“In the 24 hours since my friend and ‘GMA’ teammate shared the news that
she is fighting a rare blood disease – and will need a bone marrow transplant –
the outpouring of support has been staggering. Here’s some good news: the number
of American’s signing up to be bone marrow donors overnight up more than 1,000%
(1,043% according to the Be The Match Registry).  Becoming a donor begins with a
simple swab of your cheek – and it can make all the difference to the 6,000
Americans searching for a bone marrow donor every day.  That search just got a
little bit easier thanks to all of you.”

In the last 24 hours, Be the Match Registry has received tremendous support,
with more than 3,600 people signing up to be potential marrow donors.   On an
average day, the organization says it sees 200 to 300 people register.  However
the need for people to sign up, as well as donate funds so that Be the Match can
continue to offer free testing, remains great.

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