LOS ANGELES—It took about 372,822 steps for the Armenian Relief Society members who participated in the New Performance Nutrition Los Angeles 5K Run/Walk to complete the 5-kilometer course at Dodger Stadium on March 20, 2010. The NPN 5K is the official warm-up race for the L.A. Marathon.
Each step the ARS members took was a step to help more than two dozen greater Los Angeles community charities through the City of Los Angeles. At the same time, ARS team members, who comprised both long time members and supporters, learned from each other, had a fun group activity and raised funds for local ARS programs.
ARS teams have been participating in the LA 5K since 2002. Each year, among the participants are new supporters. One of our first-time participants this year was Nareen Melkonian. She is a sophomore majoring in English at Loyola Marymount University. Her story, in her own words, follows:
My mother is a very persistent woman. Trust me, if you knew her you would think the same. Therefore, it was of no surprise when she told me that my friends and I had no choice but to participate in the annual L.A. Marathon’s 5K walk on behalf of the ARS.
The ARS was so set on making this year more successful than previous ones that my mom even entertained the thought of bribing my friends to make them walk. Luckily, I have true friends and active AYF members who were willing to support my mother and, more importantly, the ARS and the LA Marathon. Soon enough, a bunch of us showed up at Dodger Stadium in our sneakers at 7:30 a.m, ready to walk.
Seeing about 40 “homoohees” (ARS members) with welcoming smiles and vibrant energy so early in the morning quickly changed “ready to walk” to “excited to walk.” These women made walking three miles up and down hills not only mentally and emotionally fulfilling, but also surprisingly fun. United by our pistachio green (“fusdukh”) colored t-shirts, every single one of us made it to the finish line proudly representing the Armenian Diaspora in Los Angeles. It did not end there, however.
While most people were rushing to water stands, the “homoohees” were dancing a “shourch-bar” (line dancing) to the live band playing music nowhere near Armenian. It was very difficult to miss us; random people asked us who we were, photographers took pictures, and even the lead singer announced “Armenian Relief Society” on the microphone twice.
The ARS made this an unforgettable experience for the youth, and they should be confident that we will support them in larger numbers in years to come; although the “after-party” food was enough to make us come back. It was not shocking at all to see a full table set at the headquarters for all of the participants. After all, what’s better than a “yershig” (soujoukh) sandwich at 11 a.m. after a long, fat-burning walk.