GLENDALE–Undaunted by the grueling heat of summer, hundreds gathered at Griffith Park in Glendale on Saturday to walk or run in the third annual "Walk of Life" 5k/10k Walkathon, and to support the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) in its critical life-saving mission.
In addition, many registered as potential donors and provided a cheek swab sample to be tissue-typed and entered into the ABMDR database of 14,000 volunteer donors. Special efforts were made to recruit donors for Assadour Kasparyan, presently a patient at the City of Hope and awaiting a matched donor for his much needed bone marrow stem cell transplantation.
ABMDR will conduct special donor recruitmen’s for him in Sevan, Kamo, and Ararat, where branches of his family come from. Assadour’s mother, his sister and two young children, along with a group of friends were there to walk and to let people know how difficult it is for Armenian patients to find matches, and to encourage all to join the ABMDR as donors or volunteers to help save precious lives.
The walkathon is organized every year to keep raising public awareness of the role played by the ABMDR, to expand the existing database of volunteer bone marrow stem cell donors, and to raise funds to cover tissue-typing expenses.
The event began with warm up music and exercises. At 8:30 AM, Walkathon Organizing Committee Chair Dr. Evelyn Baghdasraian welcomed all present, thanked the sponsors and described the 5K and 10 K courses. She then invited ABMDR president Dr. Frieda Jordan, who greeted the guests and participants, commanded them for "braving the terrible heat to take part in the walkathon and thus show [their] unwavering support for the ABMDR."
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America recognized the unique life saving mission of the ABMDR and led all into a prayer. Reverend Father Vazken Atmajian, representing His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America read a statement of support from the Prelate. State Assembly member Paul Krekorian stressed the important role of the ABMDR in our daily life, and reminded participants that "every stride taken today is a step in saving someone’s life."
With those words, all gathered started their walk or run of their chosen distance. Notable among participants was the large number of young people. Students from Alex Pilibos & Ferrahian High schools, UCLA and USC AGSA, members of organizations like AGBU YP, AYAC & Homenetmen Burbank "Sipan"
Chapter members , and employees from businesses (Bank of America) walked as teams and competed for best time and most participants per team. Also having fun were the little ones who got their faces painted, walked the course and continued their fun in the jumper installed especially for them.
At the conclusion of the walk, Dr. Baghdasraian, Chairperson of the walkathon committee again thanked the participants, and stressed the crucial role of the sponsors and organizations whose backing "not only makes it possible to put this event together, but also serves to remind everyone of the crucial role played by the ABMDR in the global Armenian community."
ABMDR president Dr. Jordan recognized the major sponsorship of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, as well as the sponsorships of St Joseph Medical Center, Sylvan Learning Center, City of Glendale Water and Power, Design By Naz , LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, Sarjian Law Group, GNC, Nestle Inc., Softline Solutions and Print On All. She reminded all that "it is due to the dedicated support of the public, individuals, corporations and organizations, that we have come such a long way in such a short time. All funds raised from today?s event will go towards our tissue typing expenses," she said. "And while we continue to recruit and tissue type and find matches, we have also embarked on an ambitious and major new project: our Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan. We have just completed the renovation phase of the space for the Center. Although we are proud and excited about the completion of the facility, we still have to furnish and equip the Center with the proper instrumen’s. For this, we need and count on your sustained support."
Once completed, the center will greatly facilitate the collection of bone marrow stem cells and make it much easier and affordable to carry out transplantations. In addition, as the only such center in the region, it will greatly enhance the image of Armenia in the international medical and scientific communities. Dr. Jordan recognized also the participation of many organizations and groups including the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, Armenian American Nurses Association & CHLA.
Representing Major Supporter Glendale Memorial Hospital, Ms Ramella Markarian expressed what many others had as well: "We can not think of a better cause to support that serves so many Armenian communities, not only here in Glendale, but all over the world" she said. "It is a privilege to help the ABMDR to continue its life-saving mission."
The event ended with lively music and the promise of meeting again, walking again, and saving lives again.
The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry thanks all participants and encourages all Armenia’s to call and join the registry with the hope of saving another life. The registration process is very simple and non-intrusive and only takes a few minutes. ABMDR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and welcomes donations of any size which are tax-deductible. For further information, please call 323-663-3609 or visit www.abmdr.am.