Over the past 25 years, one of the many accomplishments that comes with being the longest running anchor team in the country, perhaps none sets them apart more than their work with children. Karin and Abner have hosted the Children's Miracle Network broadcast for 22 of their 25 years on the air together. They won't tell you that every hour with CMN is completely voluntary. And although they are very modest about their contribution to CMN, there is nothing modest about the $8.2 million they've helped raise. Something Karin and Abner will tell you? What they get in return from these kids every year, you just can't buy with money.
"We didn't know what CMN was, but very quickly we realized this was a great cause." That's what Karin remembers when being approached with the idea of hosting CMN. Abner says, "We feel like we're playing a very small part in something that makes a difference."
In 1983, Lubbock General Hospital approached KCBD with an idea. They wanted Karin McKay and Abner Euresti to host the first year of the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. In an interview Karin and Abner said, "The first year we raised $80,000 and we thought 'Wow this is incredible', and it was incredible, but this last year we raised close to $700,000. The community grabbed this and ran."
Now, going on 23 years, Karin and Abner have been the longest running CMN co-hosts in the nation. And their success has been celebrated by many other famous faces along the way. Marie Osmond even recognizes Karin and Abner as "some of the originals."
Their two faces have seen hundreds of miracle families come and go. Every story, different from the next.
"Roses are red, violets are blue I beat cancer so can you." If you saw her then, you couldn't forget the face of Kristin Lewis, the 9-year-old girl from Slaton who wrote a children's book about her fight with cancer. "I have read that most people die from this disease, it's not true. If you have a good attitude and believe you can fight this you will. May god bless you as he did me, Kristin Lewis 9-years-old." Kristin is now in high school. She beat her cancer, and says her time with Karin and Abner is a memory she'll never forget. "My favorite memory with Karin and Abner is when I co-hosted the telethon with them. I got to see how everything worked and got to change clothes like Karin, I felt so special."
But Abner says the reality of miracle children is always hard to confront."There's a lot of kids who haven't made it and it really gets to us."
One story Karin remembers is that of Nikki Vincent. During a CMN telethon Karin said, "Nikki Vincent was a beautiful 16-year-old girl she was waiting for a bone marrow transplant and she died before her sister could give it to her." And that's when Nikki's father said his message to the anchor team. "We wanted to tell you thank you for the time you spent with Nikki, it meant a great deal to her."
But through all the smiles, and tears, Karin and Abner's 22 years with CMN have helped raise $8.2 million.
Jim Courtney, the President of UMC says, "Our CMN program here in Lubbock has been consistently one of the top performing CMN efforts in the nation and that's been true for a number of years." Courtney, also says money raised locally has contributed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, re-equipped and refurbished the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, and has given kids of the South Plains hope for a healthy life. "They are so well known not just as advocates for CMN, but as advocates of Lubbock and the South Plains area that they have a tremendous amount of credibility."
As CMN year 23 quickly approaches, the team of 25 years will never be forgotten in the lives of so many. Jim Courtney tells Karin and Abner, "I would say a great 25 years, you've been a tremendous asset to this community for a very long time and I only hope you're together for another 25 years because you've been great."
Kristin Lewis adds, "Karin and Abner, you both have had a tremendous part in my life and I love you both and I look forward to seeing you for many years to come, and you getting to share so many special memories with me, keep up the great work because I know you'll save many more kids lives like you saved mine."