On Sunday November 1, 2015, Pasadena, California resident Sona Donayan-Arabian will run 26.2 miles through the 5 boroughs of New York City as part of the TCS New York City Marathon.
Her goal is to increase awareness about the suffering of war-ravaged Syrian-Armenians, and to raise funds in support of their struggles for sustenance and physical existence in the midst of the devastating civil war in Syria. The 49 year old long-time marathoner and recent cancer survivor is a dietitian and fitness enthusiast who has dedicated many of her past runs to good causes, such as the Armenian Relief Society’s charitable community projects and the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. This time around, Sona’s motivation is coming from her father’s birthplace: the beautiful city of Aleppo. Once a welcoming shelter to thousands of Armenian Genocide survivors and orphans, then a vibrant hive for a thriving Armenian community, Aleppo now is a city under siege, with thousands enduring unbearable hardships and in urgent need of financial support.
Sona is excited to carry the plight of war-torn Syrians as she joins 55,000 runners on the course of the world’s biggest and most popular marathon: the prestigious New York City Marathon. She hopes to uplift all enduring spirits to triumph over adversity, and inspire the community at large to help those in need with generous donations.
Donations in support of this cause should be made to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF). The Syrian Armenian Relief Fund’s mission is to provide financial assistance to Syrian-Armenians who are victims of the ravaging Syrian civil war. Donations are solicited through the community in the Western United States, and the network of churches, political parties and charity organizations which operate in the region.
The assistance is sent to a SyriaShdab, a non-governmental organization established by Armenian churches and charitable organizations in Syria that operates out of Aleppo and is dispensed throughout the country as deemed necessary by local bodies. The support is for educational institutions, nutritional needs, essential housing repairs, and health care. Armenians currently living in Syria have been the primary recipient of assistance, however SARF has also teamed with Armenian Redwood Project and OXFAM to provide housing rental subsidy to Syrian-Armenian refugees who have fled to Armenia. SARF operates under the 501 c(3) tax code of the Armenian Relief Society of Western United States ( ARS) and as such all donations are tax deductible. An initiative is underway to make SARF an independent body.