WATERTOWN, Mass.—Supporters from throughout New England converged in Watertown on September 24 to take part in the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry’s 11th annual Walk of Life. Each year, the celebrated pan-Armenian event draws enthusiastic youth participation, with numerous students from area schools and colleges. The walkathon is also supported by local organizations, businesses, and community leaders.
Since its inception 11 years ago, Walk of Life New England has received support and sponsorship from several large and small businesses, including PROMETRIKA, LLC, of Cambridge; the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; the Armenian-American Pharmacists’ Association; Watertown Savings Bank; ThermOil, Inc.; Quebrada Baking Company; and Anoush’ella (Saj Kitchen); as well as the Armenia Tree Project, Amaras Art Alliance, St. James Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center, and Armenian Museum of America.
At the opening ceremony of the walkathon, which took place on the grounds of the Charles Mosesian Center, Shant Der Torossian of the ABMDR New England Walkathon Organizing Committee welcomed the participants. “We’re touched to again see many community organizations and individuals that have come together today to participate and collaborate for this walkathon,” Der Torossian said. “Some of you have been with us since day 1. A big thank-you to those who assisted with promoting this event among their co-workers, friends, and family. We couldn’t do this without you!”
Der Torossian conveyed the committee’s gratitude to St. James Armenian Apostolic Church, Pastor Arakel Aljalian, and Yn. Natasha for generously hosting the commencement of this year’s walkathon. Der Torossian went on to acknowledge Arax Badalian and members of the Amaras Art Alliance, as the recipients of the ABMDR New England Volunteer of the Year Award. “Arax Badalian and members of the Amaras Art Alliance have been among the very first volunteers of ABMDR New England,” Der Torossian said. “We appreciate their support and dedication to ABMDR.”
Prior to the start of the walkathon, participants held a moment of silence in honor of fallen soldiers in Armenia and Artsakh.
The walk concluded at Saltonstall Park, where participants celebrated the day’s achievements and enjoyed great music, dancing, and food, along with those attending the annual Faire on the Square festival.
In her remarks during the closing ceremony, Tamar Minassian Melkonian of the Walkathon Organizing Committee extended its appreciation to the event’s sponsors for their continued support year after year, and brought the participants’ attention to all the logos and names of the sponsors on their T-shirts.
“This year, we have a special treat for you,” Minassian Melkonian said. “The Armenian Museum of America has graciously offered open admission to anyone wearing an ABMDR walkathon T-shirt! So, after our closing ceremony, please take advantage of this offer and visit their one-of-a-kind exhibits and artifacts.”
Subsequently Alec Der Sirakian, Telo Ghazarians, and Miganush Stepanians of PROMETRIKA, LLC were awarded the Gold, Silver, and Bronze top-fundraiser awards, respectively. For the tenth consecutive year, the Armenia Tree Project will plant commemorative trees in Armenia in honor of the walkathon winners, as part of the #LivingCentury Initiative.
Commenting on the significance of the event, Der Torossian later said, “Funds raised through the walkathon and all other donations go a long way in ensuring that ABMDR is able to continue to fulfill its mission, by educating the public, recruiting donors, and facilitating bone marrow stem cell transplants for patients throughout the world.”
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 33,500 donors in 44 countries across four continents, identified over 9,000 patients, and facilitated 39 bone marrow transplants. For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit the website.