LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry held its annual banquet, Match for Life 2011, on the evening of Sunday, July 31. The jubilant community event, which was attended by more than 400 supporters, took place at the Glendale Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in Glendale, California.
Match for Life 2011 was an occasion for celebrating ABMDR’s many achievements during the past year and reaffirming worldwide support of its life-saving mission.
As the registry continues to expand its work by recruiting potential bone marrow stem cell donors, facilitating bone marrow transplants, and conducting immunogenetics research, it receives vital support from community benefactors as well as local healthcare organizations. Among these organizations are Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, a lifetime supporter of ABMDR; and Glendale Adventist Medical Center, the main corporate sponsor of this year’s Gala.
In her opening remarks, Salpi Mankerian of ABMDR graciously acknowledged the presence of dignitaries, community leaders, and artists. They included Armenian Consul General Grigor Hovhannisyan, Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman, Glendale City councilmember Ara Najarian, former Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Prelacy, Diocesan representative Archpriest Hovsep Hagopian, Rev. Joseph Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Father Krikor Chahinian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church, and popular singer Armenchik.
The evening’s program kicked off with a video message from U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, a longtime supporter. After commending the registry for its continued accomplishments, Schiff addressed the Board and volunteers of the organization and said, “Your unwavering dedication is a testament to the abiding mission of ABMDR.”
Following the invocation by Archbishop Mardirossian, welcoming remarks were delivered by Master of Ceremonies and ABMDR Board Chair Mark Geragos. After thanking the attendees for their continued support, Geragos acknowledged the sponsors of the event, including Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Dr. Boris Baghdasarian, and Dr. Nubar Boghossian of the Los Angeles Cancer Network, among others.
Geragos next introduced a short video announcement featuring Serj Tankian, lead singer and songwriter of the acclaimed rock band System of a Down. The video, which met with waves of applause, showed Tankian appealing to Armenians to join the registry as potential stem cell donors. Commenting on the effect of the video, Dr. Frieda Jordan, president of ABMDR, later commented, “Serj Tankian’s impassioned appeal is certain to rally our youth around the registry’s cause. It will help strengthen the growing involvement of the new generation in our activities.” The 30-second announcement can be accessed through the ABMDR website (abmdr.am) and will soon be posted on YouTube and elsewhere.
Equally heartening were the remarks of cancer survivors Alique Topalian and Aleen Mankerian. Topalian, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 4 and inspired the establishment of ABMDR, reiterated her faith in the registry as an organization that brings hope to thousands struck by life-threatening blood-related diseases.
On her part, Aleen Mankerian said, “ABMDR is one of the most important aspects of my life.” As significantly, she added, “The registry gives me a chance to connect with my Armenian heritage.”
Afterward guests were treated to the extraordinary artistry of the evening’s musical performers: Victor Espinola, Armen Movsessian, and Alexander Zhiroff of the renowned world-music ensemble The Forbidden Saints. Their energetic performances, featuring renditions of Armenian and world-music classics, punctuated the remainder of the Gala’s program.
A highly anticipated highlight of the event came when Dr. Frieda Jordan took the podium.
After conveying her profound gratitude to Board members, volunteers such as Fimi Mekhitarian and Naz Atikian, sponsors, the evening’s honorees, and the registry’s Yerevan staff for continuing to make ABMDR a worldwide success, Dr. Jordan thanked the organization’s lifetime supporters, including Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Ralph Yirikian and VivaCell, the Foundation Laboratory, Dr. Carolann and George Najarian, and Sidon Travel, among others.
As she spoke of ABMDR’s achievements in the past year, Dr. Jordan emphasized outreach and educational programs which were facilitated by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Dr. Jordan thanked both archbishops for their exemplary leadership, and added that ABMDR’s most recent Walkathon has made such a positive impact that the Armenian community of Fresno has invited the registry to hold its first-ever walk event in Fresno, on October 15, 2011, a week prior to the Los Angeles Walkathon.
Subsequently Dr. Jordan invited this year’s honorees to the stage. The Woman of the Year Award was bestowed on longtime Board member and Outreach Officer Vergine Madelian, PhD; George Titizian, a major supporter and a member of the registry’s Board of Directors, received the Man of the Year Award; the Volunteer of the Year awards were conferred on Ani Azar, Dr. Evelyn Baghdasraian, and Sophik Zargarian; and the Business of the Year Award was given to 4over, Inc.
Before each individual was invited to the stage and accepted his or her award, the guests were shown a video message by the respective honoree. “Our task might be daunting sometimes, but it’s the most rewarding cause I’ve ever been involved in,” Dr. Madelian said in her message. “It’s an honor to serve this organization.”
On his turn, George Titizian said that since losing his wife to a bone marrow disorder in 2008, it has been a privilege to keep her spirit alive by supporting the work of ABMDR.
The bestowment of awards was followed by the announcement of lottery-prize winners. As in previous years, the ABMDR lottery as well as the silent auction, which was held throughout the evening in the foyer of the ballroom, will benefit the registry’s ongoing activities and projects.
About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date the registry has recruited over 20,000 donors in 13 countries across three continents, identified 2,023 patients, found 1,700 potential matches, and facilitated 13 bone marrow transplants.