The MEXICO Report
By Susie Albin-Najera
He’s the number one host on Spanish TV, and a hero in real life. This December 3-4 in Mexico City, Marco Antonio Regil will lend his time and talents for the 14th consecutive year for Mexico’s largest annual fundraiser, Teletón, an organization supporting the rehabilitation of children with disabilities in Mexico.
Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Marco Antonio Regil was blessed at an early age with the gift of knowing what his true passion was in life. As a youngster, he would sit in the backseat of his mother’s 1972 Beetle and announce Top 40 radio using the extra seat belt strap as his microphone.
With an insatiable appetite to entertain, Marco began his journey into the broadcasting world at the ripe age of 14, when he was crowned winner of a local talent search. Interning every day after school for six months, Marco suddenly found himself with his very own radio show in his small town of Obregon at age 15.
Pursuing his dream, Marco finally moved to Mexico City and finally let his talent take over, charming himself right into the city’s most popular radio lineup and into the hearts of listeners. Marco’s biggest break came when a well-established host had to back out of an international television commitment. This was the opportunity that catapulted his career and helped establish him as Mexico’s number one TV host.
Since then, Marco has hosted such television hit shows in Spanish such as “The Price is Right,” “Family Feud,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” and Miss Mexico. Marco also lends his voice to the character “Metroman” for the new Dreamworks movie “Megamind” in Spanish, now in theaters.
Invited by the president of the Teleton foundation back in 1997, Marco says it’s an honor to be involved. Teletón is an institution of assistance constituted in Mexico by the Non Profit “Mexico Unido” under the leadership of Fernando Landeros whose main objective is to support the rehabilitation of the children with disabilities in Mexico.
Congratulations on being involved and hosting Teletón Mexico again this year.
Thank you. Is a great honor to be hosting this event since 1997.
What is the goal of Teletón? Is it for children with a specific type of illness or disability?
The Telethon is the most important annual event in Mexico and we raise close to 40 million dollars every year to keep building rehabilitation centers for handicap children. We have now 17 centers and this year we are going for two more. At the same time we help children with cancer and the Telethon has built two cancer clinics and donated money to more than 10 hospitals that treat cancer too.
Telethon helps children from all Mexico and our goal is to have at least one center in every state of our country.
How did you get involved with Teletón?
I was invited by the president of the Teletón foundation, to join the event. It was the same year I started hosting “The Price is Right” in Mexico.
Is the fundraiser held in Mexico City every year?
Yes, it is, but even though the main events are in Mexico City, we have activities in all Mexico. Especially in cities like Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Can you tell us about the children?
These are amazing human beings that have been born with a handicap condition or have had an accident or disease that has created a handicap condition for them. They are “Little Giants” that fight hard every single day to do the things that most of us take for granted. They are here to teach us many lessons. To make us value the things that really matter in life and they represent a beautiful opportunity to awake our compassion and help them live a better life.
Has there been anyone special that has affected you in particular?
Yes, one kid, a teenager, his name is Rafael. He has a powerful story. He jumped on a cargo train trying to come closer to the Mexican-American border to get to the USA and work to send money back to his family. He was only 14 years old. While on the train, another teenager jumped in and they started talking about their plans. This other kid lost his balance and was about to fall off the train and Rafael saved his life. Little did he know that this kid would take the money that he had saved to try to cross the border and on top of that he pushed him out of the train. Rafael lost both of his legs and never got to the U.S.A. Instead of hating or blaming anyone, he decided to forgive and to continue being a loving human being. He came to the Telethon and now has two new legs that were built for him at one of the Telethon centers and now is able to walk again. Every year we meet many amazing human beings like Rafa.
Do you have a goal in mind on how much you’d like to raise this year for Teletón?
Yes. One more peso than last year. It’s about 40 million dollars.
How do the funds get allocated? (Research, medical supplies, etc?)
Building new centers and supporting the ones that are already up and running. There is research, training, and mainly the operation of the seven rehabilitation clinics or areas that each center has. These kids receive all the attention they need in just one place as opposed to go from one place to another to get a complete evaluation and attention.
Will anyone be co-hosting with you?
Yes, Lucero, Pedro Ferriz and Carlos Loret de Mola. We are the main four hosts that share the 27 hours of this event.
What station can people tune in to see you?
It will be broadcasted in the USA in spanish thru GALAVISION.
Can you share any upcoming projects you are currently working on?
Yes, we are extremely busy doing “The Price is Right” and “Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader” and I just did the voice of “Metroman” for the new Dreamworks movie “Megamind” in Spanish for the movie. Next year, 2011, will be the year of my crossover to American English-language TV. Right now we are evaluating the options and meeting with the top producers and networks to find the right product. One of the possibilities is to be a part of the new OWN network. Oprah’s new network and that is an idea that I’m in love with. It would be amazing to be a part of this new channel, so we are working on it.
Any plans for Christmas?
We will be taping “The Price is Right” for a good part of the month as well as going to Colombia to tape an English-language TV add for “Children’s International” so the few days that are left will be for my family. Maybe in San Diego.
Your wish for Christmas for the children of Mexico?
Mexico has the number one place for child obesity followed by the USA, so my wish for them is to live a healthier life. Sugar, dairy and red meat on top of bad carbs like refined flour and junk food are literally killing our kids. This will be the first generation that will live less that the previous ones. So the key is to eat healthy, organic foods and as much as possible to avoid eating animals. I became vegan more than two years ago and I’ve lost more than 30 pounds and feel younger and better than ever. So healthy foods, lots of physical activity and reading good books that help us on our education will be the best that I can wish for Mexican kids and for children all over the planet.
And a final word from Marco…
To all the people that read your Mexico Report, remember now more than ever during these difficult changes, we have to do as Gandhi said a long time ago:
“Be the change that you want to see in this world.”
More about Teletón.
Join Marco Antonio Regil on Facebook.
Visit Marco Antonio Regil official site.