LOS ANGELES–In partnership with Glendale Memorial Hospital, The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) is gearing up for its 3rd annual Walkathon, which will take place Saturday, June 21st at Griffith Park. Proceeds from the fundraising event will help to establish a Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan, Republic of Armenia.
Organizers of the event know that while they prepare for the walkathon, hundreds of patients suffering from leukemia and other blood-related diseases throughout the Diaspora and Armenia are desperately waiting to find a matching donor to help save their lives. "The purpose of the walkathon is to raise money for the Center, states ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan, "but its larger purpose is to raise awareness within our community about the urgency of our cause, and to encourage everyone to take part in helping these patients, and those in the future who will need us."
Unlike many other Armenian causes with different missions and political agendas, the ABMDR encompasses all Armenia’s, worldwide. Dr. Jordan anticipates people from all backgrounds–community members, donors, patients, and their family members – are expected to turnout for the ABMDR’s annual event, which includes a 5K/10K walkathon followed by a festival where volunteers and walkers will celebrate their success, enjoying food and entertainment, including live music and a moon bouncer for their children. Registered walkers will receive the event’s official T-shirt and a goody bag filled with fun things and nutritious snacks.
Through previous leadership gifts, the organization has already raised over $500,000 for the Stem Cell Harvesting Center. The Registry hopes to raise the remaining $350,000 in the next five months. Once completed, the Center will prepare patients for the life-saving procedure of stem cell transplantation, and play a vital role in the treatment of other diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and heart ailmen’s. A Transplantation Center in Armenia is slated to be established in the future.
With headquarters in Los Angeles and laboratory facilities in Yerevan, Armenia, the ABMDR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that every ethnic Armenian struck with a life-threatening blood-related illness is able to find hope for long-term survival through the identification of a genetically suitable bone marrow match. Since December 2000, through cross-national cooperation, the ABMDR has recruited over 14,000 donors, identified 854 patients, found 695 matches, and – most importantly–facilitated 8 transplantations in Armenia, the United States, and Europe.
In addition to raising money for the ABMDR, the event will provide an opportunity for those who have still not registered as a potential stem cell donor to do so; a booth will be set up to take saliva samples with a simple swab of the cheek. Samples are then sent to the lab for processing to determine if there is a match for a patient in need. Walkathon Planning Chair Evelyn Baghdasarian stresses the importance of registering as a donor: "By our nature we are passive until someone close to us is diagnosed with a disease. We should not wait until that moment. On the contrary, we should take preventive measures–one of those measures is to increase the number of the donors in the registry."
Anyone can participate in the Walkathon by calling the office at (323) 663-3609 or registering on-line at www.abmdr.am. Groups can set up their own pages on the website if they wish to compete as a team with other groups for highest number of participants and most funds raised. Teams that win in these categories will be recognized at the event, and will be presented with an award at the ABMDR Annual Gala in August.
The registration fee is $20.00 (until June 20th) or $25.00 on the day of the event. Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and the walkathon will start at 8:30, with celebratory festivities occurring from 10:00 am to 12:00. Participants should convene at Griffith Park, across from the Park Rangers’ Offices, at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive.
Those who wish to learn more about the Registry may do so by going to the web site at www.abmdr.am. The ABMDR is a 501c3 non-profit organization; all donations of any size are welcome and tax-deductible.