BY HOURIG FOURNOUZIAN
It’s been nearly five years since we lost a beautiful young girl, our dear Nataline Sarkisyan, who at the tender age of 17 lost her courageous battle against leukemia. In the hearts of her family and friends however, Nataline lives on, with her radiant smile and zest for life. And on July 14, 2012, our community will once again come together to honor her memory, as we have done every year since her passing.
Diagnosed with leukemia at the young age of 14, for the next two years Nataline fought valiantly against the disease with the help of her parents and team of doctors. Just when it seemed like the battle was won, the cancer returned, and Nataline was now in need of a liver transplant. Another battle began, this time with the Sarkisyan family’s health insurance company Cigna, who were not authorizing the liver transplant. Eventually the procedure was authorized, but by then it was too late. The Sarkisyan family had lost their beloved daughter with her innocent and serene smile.
After her passing, the Sarkisyan family established the “Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation” with two purposes; to keep their daughter’s memory alive, and also to fight back against large insurance companies who deny patient care for profit, to defeat the current ERISA law and replace it with Nataline’s law.
Nataline had big dreams and plans for her life. Alongside receiving higher education, it was her dream to be a part of the fashion industry designing women’s clothing. At a young age she had already began working in fulfillment of this dream, and it was only after her passing that her parents, to their great and pleasant surprise, discovered a sketchbook of designs hidden in Nataline’s bedroom.
The discovery of that sketchbook became the inspiration for the annual fashion show held in honor of Nataline which celebrates her aspirations to become a fashion designer. The event is sponsored by benevolent organizations and individuals, and all proceeds go to providing scholarships to students with aspirations to have a career in the fashion, culinary, or medical fields.
This year’s “Nataline’s Fashion Legacy” will once again be held at Mercedes Benz of Calabasas. There will be a cultural program in addition to the fashion show. As in previous years, the event will close by honoring Nataline’s memory and talent by showcasing one of her own designs brought to life by famed fashion designer Pol Atteu.
It is worth noting that this anual event draws praise and commendation not just from the Armenian community, but from non-Armenians as well who encourage the Foundation’s mission through their moral and financial support. Please visit www.natalinesarkisyan.com for more information.
I would like to close with a poem in tribute to Nataline and as an expression of my love and support for her parents, my Homenetmen brother and sister Koko and Hilda Sarkisyan, and Nataline’s brother Bedig.
You were a beautiful young rose
Glowing as bright as the midday sun,
Living each moment to the fullest
You enjoyed many good days,
But, alas, justice you did not see
As you ascended up to the heavens.
It is now your parents’ mission
And triumphant they will be,
As they continue to fight the good fight
In justice and righteousness for you, sweet Nataline.