NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP), an organization dedicated to restoring the eyesight of premature infants, children and adults throughout Armenia, will be holding its Ninth Annual Newport Gala on Saturday, November 19, 6:30pm at the Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach. Governor George Deukmejian will be honored at the event.
“We are recognizing the Governor for his extraordinary contributions to the EyeCare Project over the past twenty years,” says Roger Ohanesian, M.D., Founder and Chairman of the EyeCare Project. “His wisdom, guidance and support throughout the years have been invaluable. He has always been one of the first advisors I have turned to for expert legal guidance. Though a very busy person, he has always been generous with his time and given sage advice.”
The Honorary Governor Deukmejian is an original AECP board member and has been a dedicated supporter ever since. Throughout the years, Governor Deukmejian has helped the AECP tremendously by giving of his time and financial resources.
“I was and still am impressed with the extraordinary way which Dr. Ohanesian and other doctors have been willing to provide their skills and talents to provide good eye care for people living in Armenia,” says Governor Deukmejian. “I admire them for their tireless efforts and making the many trips to Armenia. While there, they provide care, treatment and good medical advice to countless numbers of patients. Then they have carried it forward by helping train ophthalmologists in Armenia to undertake the most up to date diagnostic methods and surgical techniques. Finally, the effort to put together the mobile eye hospital and providing this high level of care for everybody in the countryside has been extraordinary.”
Honorary chairperson, Governor George Deukmejian will be attending with his wife Gloria. Aram Bassenian and Kenneth Khachigian—past recipients of the Lifetime Humanitarian of the Year Award and former board members—will serve as Masters of Ceremonies. Khachigian, accomplished speechwriter is best remembered for his tenure in the Nixon and Reagan administrations. Bassenian, Chairman & CEO of Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, founded the architectural firm 35 years ago and throughout his long career has authored thousands of homes in California and abroad.
Each year, the AECP hosts a gala dinner to raise awareness and funds for ongoing medical missions to Armenia. At no cost to patients, Dr. Ohanesian with a team of internationally renowned ophthalmologists travels to Armenia to treat needy infants, children and adults. Donations are used to purchase medical equipment and train doctors in Yerevan. Additionally, money raised at the gala supports AECP’s Mobile Eye Hospital that travels across the country and treats Armenians who cannot afford medical treatment.
“One child going blind is too many,” says Dr. Ohanesian. “It is heartbreaking to see a child lose eyesight when it could have been prevented with screening and affordable treatment. Unfortunately, too many Armenian babies and children are going blind because doctors in Armenia do not have the resources. We are dedicated to making sure no child has to live in total darkness due to a condition or disease that can be treated.”
Attendees will include corporate sponsors, business leaders and underwriters. In addition to the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. George Deukmejian, Dr. and Mrs. Roger Ohanesian, Mr. and Mrs. Aram Bassenian and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Khachigian, other AECP Board Members attending include; Mr. and Mrs. Jack McHale, Mr. and Mrs. Julian Gangolli, Mr. and Mrs. Monique Hachigian, Dr. and Mrs. Richard A. Hill, Mr. and Mrs. David Keligian, Dr. and Mrs. Baruch D. Kuppermann, Dr. and Mrs. John A. Hovanesian, Mr. and Mrs. Debbie Poochigian and Mr. Robert and Mrs. Cynthia Tusan.
Guests will enjoy dinner and an evening with entertainment by Robert Duquesnel and his three-piece orchestra. A silent and live auction will include items such as a trip to Armenia, an opportunity for a student to attend the trip with the doctors and be at their side during the 10-14 day mission and see patients examined and treated. Just the thing to get as encouragement for a grandchild aspiring to become a doctor. Other items include: weekend getaway to New York City, Las Vegas, and a luxury Paris vacation package, one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia and more.
Individual tickets are $500 per person, or $4,000 for a table of ten; please call 949-675-5611 for advance reservations and questions.
About the Hon. George Deukmejian:
Born and raised in New York, George Deukmejian attended the local college and was nick-named “Duke” by his fellow students. He went on to earn his law degree at St. John’s University and practiced law in New York before serving with the U.S. Army. Deukmejian served as the Governor of California from January 1983 to January 1991. The Governor created five foreign trade and investment offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Frankfort, and Mexico City. His tenure was also highlighted by major planned investments in California’s public facilities, as well as tax, budgetary and regulatory policies, which established a positive business climate in the state. As a result, nearly three million new jobs were created, with California becoming one of the ten largest economies in the entire world. Governor Deukmejian was a partner in Sidley & Austin, a national and international law firm, from 1991 to 2000 when he retired. He reentered public life by serving on special committees, including one to reform the California penal system, and a charter-reform committee in his hometown of Long Beach. Governor Deukmejian and his wife, Gloria, reside in Long Beach, California and have three children and two grandchildren.
About the Armenian EyeCare Project:
The Armenian EyeCare Project was founded in 1992 by Roger Ohanesian, M.D., after he received a call from the Armenian Minister of Health, who asked him to help Armenia fight a growing wave of blindness. The country was at war with neighboring Azerbaijan and with doctors in the battlefield, hospitals were overrun with casualties and ordinary patients who needed care. It was this great need that inspired Dr Ohanesian to start the project and vow to continue returning twice yearly until the goal of a western style eye hospital as a center of excellence was accomplished.
The mission of the Armenian EyeCare Project is to eliminate avoidable blindness and to provide eye care for all Armenians in need.
Each year, Dr. Ohanesian and an international team of doctors who volunteer their time, embark on medical missions to Armenia to provide eye care to children and adults at no cost. All the doctors and others pay their own way and receive no compensation for their trip other than the satisfaction of helping others.
June 2010, AECP launched the Project’s Infant Blindness Initiative, “Prevention of Retinopathy of Prematurity in Armenia.” The purpose of the mission was to train Armenian doctors how to identify and treat Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). All babies born prematurely are susceptible to this disease which can lead to blindness if not treated.
This year, the 38th AECP medical mission and International Conference were held on July 15-16, 2011 in Yerevan.
The conference was sponsored by AECP, the Vision Center of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, the Armenian Ministry of Health and USAID. More than100 Armenian ophthalmologists and neonatologists attended the conference to learn about the results of year one Infant Blindness Initiative and the programs planned for 2011. The most exciting news of the 2011 conference was the announcement that over 400 Armenian infants have been screened since the program was launched last year and 36 infants received laser surgery, at no cost to their families, saving them from a lifetime of blindness.
The AECP was able to accomplish tremendous results this year because of the equipment donated by extraordinarily generous benefactors over the last year including Luther and Glenda Khachigian, Sarkis and Ruth Bedevian and the Allergan Foundation. Dr. Ohanesian was also proud to announce to the conference that the ROP national program in Armenia has been so successful that it has become a model for other developing countries.