Tenth annual ABMDR walkathon celebrates life-saving mission

Los Angeles, October 12, 2015 – On October 3, close to 400 supporters converged in Glendale, California, to participate in the tenth-anniversary walkathon of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR). The jubilant Walk of Life, which raises grassroots support for ABMDR’s life-saving mission, drew scores of community leaders and elected officials, and several large teams of participants from Los Angeles schools, organizations, and youth associations.

In her remarks during the opening ceremony, at the plaza of Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Walkathon Committee co-chair Christina Ashjian welcomed participants on behalf of the committee, which is co-chaired by Salpi Aprahamian and Sharlene Gozalians.

Ashjian recognized the walkathon’s honorary chairs and dignitaries participating in the event, including Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese, represented by Father Mampre Kesabyan; Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy, represented by Father Vazken Atmajian; Jack Ivie, president of Glendale Memorial; US Congressman Adam Schiff, represented by Mary Hovakimian; California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, represented by Elena Semerdjian; Glendale City Council members Laura Friedman, Zareh Sinanyan, Vartan Gharapetian, and Paula Devine; and Burbank City Council member Emily Gabel-Luddy.

On her part, Sharlene Gozalians extended a special Thank You to the two major sponsors of Walk of Life, Glendale Memorial and Foundation Lab. Both received awards for their ongoing support of ABMDR. As he accepted a Certificate of Appreciation for Glendale Memorial, Jack Ivie said, “As you walk today, you’re not only contributing to a local community event, but actually having a positive impact on people across the globe. Today’s walk is also pretty exciting because it’s taking place in an extraordinary year for the Armenian people, which has included centenary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide and celebrations of the 24th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Together, these events are of enormous significance to the worldwide Armenian community. Supporting Walk of Life reflects a core Dignity Health value: collaboration. Glendale Memorial deeply appreciates partnering with ABMDR to ensure that individuals around the world have access to the life-saving treatment they need to fight blood-related illnesses.”

In his acceptance remarks, Areg Boyamyan, representing Foundation Lab, said, “For all of us at Foundation Lab, it’s been a pleasure and honor to be a part of the growth of ABMDR, from its very infancy. We always look forward to supporting this wonderful organization.”

Following the invocation, which was performed by Fathers Vazken Atmajian and Mampre Kesabyan, Salpi Aprahamian presented awards for outstanding support of the walk. The Providence High School team was awarded for having the highest number of participants; and the Americana Real Estate Group received an award for having raised the most funds. Aprahamian also recognized Rafik Mughnetsyan, president of the Armenian Student Association at University of California, Irvine, for his continued support.

As she addressed the participants, Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of ABMDR, said, “I think every one of you should be very proud of yourselves, because, by taking part in this great tenth-anniversary walk, you’re becoming a beacon of hope for all those patients, in Los Angeles and beyond, who rely on our support for a chance to survive life-threatening illnesses.”

Dr. Jordan also said that this year’s walkathon was dedicated to all patients who are in need of a matched donor through ABMDR, including Harut, a recent patient; and Cici Kardashian. Next Dr. Jordan introduced a bone marrow donor, Paulette Melekian, who last year has helped save the life of a ten-year-old boy after she was determined to be a perfect bone marrow match. “I’m glad I did it,” Melekian said as she recalled the experience of donating bone marrow at City of Hope. “Becoming a donor was one of the sweetest moments of my life. It was like giving a second birth. If you haven’t still registered with ABMDR, please do so. And if you’re already registered, please pray that you receive a call informing you that you’re a match.”

Prior to the commencement of the walk, participants warmed up to upbeat music, led by a trainer from Total Woman, which has volunteered its services for Walk of Life for the past six years. Subsequently Dr. Jordan performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony with the help of donors and patients.

The 5-K walk-run looped through central Glendale and concluded at the plaza of Glendale Memorial. The walkathon included a half-way stop at the Armenian Consulate, on Central Avenue, where walkers were greeted by Deputy Consul General of Armenia Valery Mkrtoumian and other Consulate staff. Longtime ABMDR supporter Dr. Garni Barkhoudarian was the first to make it to the finish line.

After waves of participants once again gathered at the plaza of Glendale Memorial after completing the walk, the festivities continued into the day. The celebration also gave participants the opportunity to join the ranks of ABMDR as potential bone marrow donors, while volunteers were on hand to answer questions and welcome new recruits.

About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians and non-Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited over 27,000 donors in 24 countries across four continents, identified 3,000 patients, and facilitated 20 bone marrow transplants. For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.

For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.