Everybody loves Robin.
“Good Morning America” threw a welcome back bash Wednesday for co-host Robin Roberts, who returned to her post on the ABC morning show nearly six months after taking a medical leave of absence to fight a rare blood disorder known as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
“I have been waiting 174 days to say this: ‘Good Morning America,’” a beaming Roberts said as the show opened.
George Stephanopoulos kicked off the party with a warm greeting for his co-anchor: “Hello Robin! The froggy slippers are off and she’s back in Times Square five months to the day from her bone-marrow transplant. Her doctors giving her the thumbs-up, she’s been getting into fighting shape, and all of Team Robin here and across the country give her a big welcome right now.”
“I keep pinching myself and I realize that this is real. This is really happening,” Roberts, 52, said. “I don’t have my froggy slippers on.”
The “GMA” gang had a very good morning full of surprises planned for the two-hour special edition that included an impressive array of welcome-back messages for Robin from A-List celebrities — including the Commander in Chief himself.
President Obama and Michelle Obama delivered a taped message for Roberts at the top of the first hour.
“Good morning America and welcome back Robin,” the President said. The First Lady added, “Robin, we just want you to know that the whole Obama family — we’ve been thinking about you and praying for you and rooting for you every step of the way.” [Roberts is scheduled to interview Michelle Obama later this week.]
Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, superstar athlete LeBron James, and country singer Josh Turner were among the other famous faces who also sent in video messages for Robin, who was presented with her very own Lakers jersey as NBA star Kobe Bryant called her “a true champion and an inspiration.”
Outside on the streets of New York City, a huge crowd of well wishers cheered and waved signs, as Roberts’ photo was plastered on several Times Square billboards, while inside the studio guests included Roberts’ sisters Sally Ann [who was her bone marrow donor] and Dorothy, as well as her team of doctors. Her physicians reported that Robin is getting stronger every day, but they would be assessing her condition after her first day back on the job and would be urging her to listen to her body.
The party also included a performance by her favorite gospel choir, Mandisa, and at one point, there was even a flyby of a plane carrying Robin’s words of inspiration from her prayer bracelet: “Light, love, power, presence.”
“Faith, family and friends have brought me to this moment and I am so full of gratitude,” Roberts said. “There are so many people I want to thank throughout the morning, my doctors and nurses and family and colleagues and people who have sat in this chair and those who have blazed the trail before me.”
“As my mother said, ‘We all have something,’” Roberts continued. “Everyone’s story has purpose and meaning and value and I share this morning, this day of celebration with everyone.”
Capping off the celebration, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro delivered a giant, colorful, multi-tiered cake made in Robin’s favorite flavor — red velvet.
“Now that I have Sally’s cells, I have her sweet tooth,” Roberts joked.
Visibly grateful and overwhelmed, Roberts got emotional at the end of the show and teared up while thanking everyone for their tremendous support and encouragement during her battle.
“I have said this before, how blessed I am and how lucky I am, to be able to come back to a job I love so much,” Roberts admitted. “What can I say but thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Viewers can see more of Robin Roberts’ recovery process on a special edition of “20/20″ airing Friday at 10/9c on ABC.