Walk Of Life Draws Strong Community Support And Youth Participation

The start of the walkathon, at Glendale Memorial Hospital

Annual event advances ABMDR’s life-saving mission worldwide

LOS ANGELES—More than 500 supporters participated in Walk of Life 2013, the eighth annual walkathon of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR).

The jubilant community event took place on the morning of Saturday, May 4, in Glendale, California. The 5-K walk-run started at the plaza of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, looped through central Glendale, and concluded at the starting point, where festivities continued into the day.

Walk of Life 2013 promoted public awareness of life-threatening blood-related illnesses and raised funds for the life-saving mission of ABMDR, which now operates in 17 countries in four continents.

The event was attended by large numbers of young supporters, among them teams representing several area Armenian schools, organizations, student associations, and youth clubs. Strong youth participation was complemented by the attendance of several guests of honor, including elected officials and community leaders.

The program began with an opening ceremony, as welcome remarks were delivered by Walk of Life 2013 co-chairs Salpy Aprahamian and Christina Ashjian.

Following a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Salpy Aprahamian announced that the day’s gathering comprised not only walkers from throughout Southern California, but a team from Wisconsin. Aprahamian went on to thank the event’s sponsors, including Glendale Memorial Hospital and the Foundation Laboratory, both ABMDR Lifetime Supporters; as well as Kardashian Khaos, C&S Sales, the Tweten Foundation, Closet World, and Rima Mardirosian of Glendale Memorial.

On her part, Christina Ashjian acknowledged the support of the event’s Honorary Chairs, including Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy (represented at the walk by Father Vazken Atmajian), Reverend Joseph D. Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Glendale Memorial Hospital president Jack Ivie, Consul General of Armenia Grigor Hovhannisyan, US Congressman Adam Schiff, State Senator Carol Liu, State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Burbank mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Glendale City Council members Ara Najarian, Zareh Sinanyan, and Laura Friedman, and Glendale Unified School District Board of Education president Greg Krikorian.

Next to address the attendees was State Senator Carol Liu, who stated: “It’s very important that we do our very best, through wonderful events such as this, so that people who need help can get it.”

The event’s invocation was performed by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, who also delivered remarks. “The engagement of our community in the God-pleasing mission of ABMDR is commendable,” he said. “All of us have the noble duty of making sure that we take life as a mission, in order to fulfill the dream of bringing hope and joy to the life of our fellow human beings.”

Archbishop Derderian’s address was followed by the remarks of ABMDR president Dr. Frieda Jordan. “The heart and soul of our mission is to save the lives of patients,” she said. “Today I’m so honored that we have a number of survivor patients among us, and I’m going to share this very humble podium with them, because these are the guys who personify the objective truth of our mission.”

With this, Dr. Jordan introduced patients Shakeh, John, and Peter, all of whom have undergone bone marrow transplants. The patients took turns to thank the registry and the attendees for continuing to advance its mission. “My message is really short and sweet: Be a donor, save a life,” said patient Peter. “It could be someone from your family. Be a donor, save a life. It’s all you have to do.”

Dr. Jordan added, “With every step you take today, just remember: you can save somebody’s life. Or you can take those steps in memory of somebody. For instance, right now we have a very beautiful young child among us who will walk in memory of a loved one, Biurad.”

Prior to the walk, participants warmed up to upbeat music, led by a team of trainers from Total Woman. Subsequently Dr. Jordan performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The walkathon took participants on a five-mile loop, with a half-way stop at the Armenian Consulate, where walkers were greeted and cheered on by Consul General Grigor Hovhannisyan, a longtime supporter of ABMDR.

Following the conclusion of the walk, at the plaza of Glendale Memorial Hospital, participants continued to enjoy festivities — which featured food, music, and dance. The celebration also gave attendees the opportunity to join the ranks of ABMDR as potential bone marrow donors, with volunteers on hand to answer questions and welcome new recruits.

Another highlight of the program was the awards ceremony, during which outstanding walk teams and supporters were recognized. The Lil Monsters team received a trophy for collecting the most donations, and the Providence High School team was awarded for having the highest number of participants.

Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps 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 22,000 donors in 17 countries across four continents, identified 2,135 patients, and facilitated 16 bone marrow transplants.

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