LOS ANGELES—With the latest Walk of Life, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry celebrated its 20th anniversary while raising grassroots support for its mission of helping save lives across the globe. The walkathon was held on October 5 in Glendale, CA.
With its powerful humanitarian message, as well as jubilant community atmosphere, featuring music and food, the 14th annual Walk of Life drew strong youth participation. The more than 350 supporters who attended the event included state and local elected officials, community leaders, and numerous teams representing schools, universities, community organizations, and individual supporters.
The walkathon’s opening ceremony took place at the plaza of the Glendale City building. In her remarks, Walkathon Committee Chair Dr. Christina Ashjian welcomed the attendees and spoke about the growth of ABMDR as a highly-regarded national bone marrow donor registry. Dr. Ashjian also acknowledged dignitaries and Walk of Life honorary chairs in attendance, including Father Ardak Demirdjian of the Western Prelacy; Father Vatche Hayrabedian of the Western Diocese; Arda Tchakian, representing California State Senator Anthony Portantino; Mary Hovagimian, representing U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff; Victoria Dochoghlian, representing California State Assemblymember Laura Friedman; Glendale City Mayor Ara Najarian; Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine; Areg Boyamyan, Senior Vice President of Foundation Laboratory; and fashion personality Emily Vartanian.
Welcome remarks were also delivered by Walkathon Committee Co-Chair Annethe Postik, who thanked Walk of Life’s corporate and community sponsors. Postik acknowledged the walkathon’s major sponsor, the Viazoi company, as well as other sponsors including Softline Solutions, Paulette Malekian of Dilbeck Real Estate, 3T, DJ Eddy O, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Super King Markets, Dr. Peter H. Ashjian, Tamara Ice Cream, Providence High School, Flintridge Family Chiropractic, Porto’s Bakery & Café, the Armenian Professional Society, LA Smiles, pH Solutions, Prolase, ASAP Pharmacy, and Tatevman Design Studio.
Next, remarks were delivered by ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan. “Today, we celebrate 20 years of grassroots activism and selfless dedication, and 20 years of helping save lives – not just in Los Angeles, and not just in Armenia and Artsakh, but across the world,” Dr. Jordan said. “As I look at you, our supporters, as I see so many dedicated young people among our ranks, my heart fills with tremendous pride, because you make our work all the more worthwhile. Your willingness to make a difference, and the care and support that you show with your participation, are what the ABMDR mission is all about.”
Subsequently Dr. Jordan invited Mayor Ara Najarian to address the participants. As he conveyed the Glendale City Council’s appreciation for the work of ABMDR, Mayor Najarian congratulated the organization on its 20th anniversary and commended its ongoing quest to help save lives. The last speaker was Areg Boyamyan, who said, “From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate ABMDR’s highly-dedicated leadership and volunteers, and all of you here, our wonderful community members, for helping make this organization’s mission a reality.”
Boyamyan’s remarks were followed by the invocation, performed by Fathers Demirdjian and Hayrabedian.
During the opening ceremony, several individuals and organizations were recognized for their instrumental role in the success of the walkathon. Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Viazoi for its continued support and major sponsorship; to KPAC Kaiser for having raised the most funds; and to Eric Markarian and Crescenta Valley Science and Medicine Academy as the team with the most participants.
A noteworthy feature of this year’s walkathon was a large banner, displayed in the plaza of the Glendale City building, on which walk supporters wrote down their individual reasons for participating in the event, whether in honor of loved ones or in support of all those who need a life-saving donor match.
Following Walk of Life’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, the 5-K walk-run looped through central Glendale. The walkathon concluded at the plaza of the Glendale City building, where the festivities continued into the day. The event also gave participants the opportunity to join the ranks of ABMDR as potential bone marrow stem cell donors, as many volunteers were on hand to answer questions and welcome new recruits.
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 31,000 donors in 33 countries across four continents, identified over 9,000 patients, and facilitated 33 bone marrow transplants. For more information, call 323.663.3609 or visit the website.