As "Good Morning America" counts down to its 40th anniversary marathon livestream event, Robin Roberts remembered the stories that, for her, were standouts of her tenure.
One is reuniting the Poulter family after the powerful earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. The magnitude-7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, leveled Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, and left as many as 300,000 people dead.
As responders from all around the world traveled to help in the aftermath, one American couple was anxiously awaiting news about the 4-year-old girl they’d adopted.
Matt and Mandy Poulter of Pella, Iowa, were just weeks away from bringing home their daughter, Maya. They were just waiting for her passport when the earthquake hit.
The couple immediately worried for Maya’s safety. For three days, they were unable to reach the orphanage and were desperate for information on their daughter. Having seen so many grim images of people trapped under rubble, they feared the worst.
Roberts and a team from ABC News were in Haiti to report on the disaster. Armed with directions from the Poulters, they traveled to Maya’s orphanage in Port-au-Prince in search of the girl.
Getting around was not easy, but the ABC News teams found the orphanage. It had sustained only minor damage, and Maya was there, frightened but safe.
Roberts recalled wondering whether she and her colleagues could find the orphanage.
“And somehow we're able to,” she said. “ And we're able to get (the Poulters) on the phone. And I remember -- you know, I'm seeing their daughter that they're about to adopt -- and saying, ‘She's okay. She's okay,” she said.
The Poulter family appeared live on "GMA" today to chat with Roberts about their life together.
"That was actually one of the greatest moments of our life," Mandy Poulter said of the phone call from Roberts. "It brought us so much hope because we really didn’t know if she had survived during the earthquake. It brought us so much hope to know that she was okay and that it was time to go get her and bring her home."
"You’ll always be a critical part of our family and of Maya’s story," Mandy said to Roberts.
The Poulters still send Christmas cards and Maya's school photos to Roberts, but she was still shocked to see Maya in person as a 10-year-old, fourth-grade student who has developed a personality and passions in life.
"I want to be a teacher that I can teach people about God and Jesus," said Maya, who also said she loves to run track and play with her siblings.
The Poulters have adopted other children and said that when they brought Maya home, she fit right in with the family.
"She’s such a resilient and compassionate kid that around her brothers and sisters she settles in very well and takes good care of her younger siblings and it’s just been a joy to have her," Matt said.
"She’s adored by her brothers and sisters," Mandy added. "She’s very motherly to the younger ones, and the older kids just love to include her in everything they’re doing, from soccer to basketball to school work."
Other notable moments covered by Roberts include interviewing Barack Obama on his inauguration as the nation’s first black president, co-writing a song with Grammy Award-winning artist India.Arie and her interview with Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the US Airways pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in 2009 after both engines of the Airbus A320 were knocked out due to multiple bird strikes.
All 155 people aboard the aircraft survived in the incident which has been dubbed the "Miracle on the Hudson."
To celebrate its 40th anniversary on the air, “GMA” will next week broadcast nonstop for 40 consecutive hours in an on-air and livestreamed event featuring celebrity performances, special events and the reunion of the morning show’s previous anchors David Hartman, Charlie Gibson, Sam Champion and Joan Lunden, among others.
"GMA"'s “40 for 40” event will start Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. and will run uninterrupted through 9 a.m. Nov. 19.