OK Teen To Be Featured On CBS News For Making Amends With Dad's Mugging Victim
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma teenager is gaining international attention after he did something quite honorable. He tried to make amends with his father's mugging victim.
After we aired the story on News 9 and News9.com earlier this month, the story went viral, with hundreds of people sharing it online and through social media.
Now, 15-year-old Christian Lunsford's story will be told on the national level by CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman. I sat down with Hartman while he was in Oklahoma City to find out why.
"People think, ‘Oh you must have a million ideas,' Hartman said. "We don't have a million ideas so we're always struggling to find whatever the very best story is in America that week and this week it happened to be your story."
The story happened by chance, though, when Christian Lunsford's stepfather, Jeff White, called our newsroom wanting to get in touch with Tona Herndon. Tona was recently robbed of her cash and credit cards allegedly by Christian's father, Shane Lunsford, while she visited her husband's grave at the Bethany Cemetery. Police arrested Lunsford for robbery in the incident, which wasn't his first run-in with the law.
"In the past, he's been to prison several times as I was a child," Christian said. "It's hard, gets you depressed a lot, but God gets you through it."
When Christian found out what happened, he wanted to meet Tona. The two allowed us to come along during their meeting when Christian tried to give her $250 in cash his father had just given him.
"When I found out this whole situation, I didn't know if it was hers or his or how, I just knew I needed to give the money to her," Christian said. "She's a very nice lady, very sweet, caring, very loving, so it made me feel better."
He also wanted to apologize to her for his father's actions. Tona then surprised everybody when she received the money, then immediately returned it to him so he could use it for an upcoming band trip.
"He didn't know I was going to give it back to him but that was the thing to do," Tona said. "I want him to have a good band trip and realize all his dreams."
Many Oklahomans saw this emotional exchange and eventually so did Hartman.
"Whenever I watch something, if I get kind of emotional, I get a little tear in my eye, I know that's something that other people are going to watch too," he said. "When we saw the way you guys handled that story, we thought, the rest of America needs to see this."
So Hartman and his crew came to Oklahoma to meet Christian and Tona for themselves.
"He's great," Hartman said of Christian. "His dad isn't the best guy, at least not right now, but Christian doesn't care. He's going to be his own man and he proved that. That's what I really like about this story and that's what came across in our interview and I think people are going to love meeting him."
White, Christian's stepfather, said the outpouring of support for what his stepson did is incredible. People have even donated money toward his band expenses, which are paid up through the next year.
You can watch Hartman's story about Christian, Friday, September 27, right here on News 9 during the CBS Evening News.