Crystal-year Gala attended by hundreds special awards conferred on longtime supporters
LOS ANGELES—Match for Life, the annual Gala of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), celebrated the 15th anniversary of the organization. More than 400 supporters, reflecting a cross section of the Los Angeles Armenian community and including church and community leaders, elected officials, and representatives of various health organizations, attended the jubilant event, which was held on the night of August 10, 2014, at the Glendale Hilton, in Glendale, California.
Featuring a distinguished roster of speakers, the Gala served as a pan-national occasion to salute 15 years of ABMDR achievements, and also honor numerous individuals and organizations for their extraordinary support of its mission. The Gala was made possible by the major sponsorship of Glendale Adventist Medical Center.
Following a cocktail hour and silent auction in the foyer and terrace of the hotel’s Glendale Ballroom, the evening’s main program began inside the hall, with opening remarks delivered by ABMDR Board member and Mistress of Ceremonies Taleen Khatchadurian.
As she welcomed the guests, Khatchadurian acknowledged the presence of several dignitaries and community leaders, including Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese; Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy; Rev. Joseph Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Eghia Mansuryan, representing the Consulate of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles; former First Lady of Armenia and ABMDR Honorary Chair Dr. Bella Kocharian; Los Angeles City Council member Paul Krekorian; Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan; Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon; Glendale City Council members Ara Najarian and Paula Devine; Glendale City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian; Talin Mangioglu, representing California State Senator Carol Liu; Mary Hovagimian, representing Congressman Adam Schiff; Mary Manoukian, representing California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto; Rita Hadjimanoukian, representing Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; Glendale Adventist Medical Center President and CEO Kevin Roberts; Ramella Markarian, also representing Glendale Adventist Medical Center; Glendale Memorial Hospital President Jack Ivie and Vice President of Business Development David Mauss; Dr. Neena Kapoor of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Zaven Kazazian of the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club; Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Arpi Barsam of Saint James Armenian Church; Armenian American Medical Association President Dr. Serineh Melidonian; Dr. Zarmine Naccashian of the Armenian American Nurses Association; Cochlear Transplant Program Chair Salpi Akaragian; Armenian Relief Society Central Executive Board Chair Vicky Marashlian and Western Region representatives Rita Hintlian and Jasik Jarahian; the Western Diocese Ladies’ Auxiliary Committee; the Western Prelacy Ladies’ Auxiliary Committee; and the Armenian Cycling Association, represented by Jacques Merdkhanian, Armen Hagopian, Artin Shaverdian, and the Nazarian family.
The event’s invocation was performed by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, who subsequently was presented with the 2014 ABMDR Humanitarian Achievement Award, in recognition of his key role in the Western Diocese’s longtime support of the Registry. As he accepted the award, Archbishop Derderian said, “The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has been and continues to be a blessing in the life of our community, where we all see the dire need for leadership, sacrifice, and the sharing of divine gifts among people. The ABMDR is a divine mission. Those who become shareholders in this mission are those who become the holy hand of God.”
Taleen Khatchadurian next introduced ABMDR founding members Mark Geragos, Esq., Dr. Frieda Jordan, Dr. Bella Kocharian, and Dr. Sevak Avagyan.
“This organization has thousands of shining facets, not the least of which are its more than 26,000 registered potential donors and 20 facilitated transplants,” Dr. Jordan said as she took the podium. “We sparkle as the Caucasus region’s only Stem Cell Harvesting Center. We shine worldwide as members of top medical associations, presenters at major professional conferences, and – coming up this October – hosts of the prestigious European Federation of Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility meeting in Yerevan for the second time.”
“In this special Crystal Anniversary year, we thank all of you for bringing the spark and sparkle to our work on behalf of ethnic Armenians everywhere who need our help,” Dr. Jordan continued. “With your support, our future is crystal clear.”
On her part, Dr. Bella Kocharian, ABMDR’s first-ever registered donor, said, “As a physician, I have always been deeply aware of the need for a donor registry dedicated to helping save Armenian lives. And as an Armenian, I remain absolutely in awe of our Registry, considering not only its extraordinary achievements in the past 15 years, but the fact that it has quickly become a genuinely pan-Armenian institution.”
Also delivering remarks was ABMDR Executive Director Dr. Sevak Avagyan, who shared with the audience some of the most recent milestones achieved by the Registry’s lab in Yerevan, in terms of diagnostics, research, cord-blood banking, and pioneering autotransplantation procedures. Dr. Avagyan went on to make a special Crystal-anniversary appeal for grassroots and major benefactor support, “so we can continue our critically important tissue-typing work and provide vital diagnostics for our Armenian patients who cannot afford it,” he said.
The ABMDR Humanitarian Achievement Award was likewise conferred on Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Armenian Consul General Dr. Sergey Sarkisov. Accepting the award on behalf of the latter was Eghia Mansuryan of the Consulate.
As he accepted the Humanitarian Achievement Award, Archbishop Mardirossian said: “On this historic night, we express our thanks and gratitude to the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry’s army of volunteers, who in the past 15 years have served a divine purpose, by helping bring the gift of life to so many. They are the real heroes of this initiative, who have committed themselves to the Registry’s life-saving cause. You have, and continue to be, a blessing for so many of our brothers and sisters, among them little children and young adults fighting life-threatening illnesses. You have brought hope not only to them, but their families. We congratulate you on the 15th anniversary of this worthy service and wish you decades more to come.”
Other individuals who were honored during the evening were ABMDR founding members Diana Artunian, Michelle Seyranian, Stepan Vartanian, Frank Melkonian, Dr. Carolann Najarian, and Alvard Petrosyan, as well as the organization’s present Board of Directors, all of whom received the ABMDR Leadership Excellence Award. Delivering remarks on behalf of the Board was Dr. Varoosh Alaverdian, who expressed profound delight at witnessing the continued growth and worldwide outreach of ABMDR.
In addition, Dr. Jordan made a surprise announcement to recognize the invaluable service of longtime supporters Teresa Hacopian, Dalida Keuroghlian, and Carmen Lukassian, while the 2014 Gala Committee, chaired by Naz Atikian, as well as Dr. Vergine Madelian, Fimi Mekhitarian, and Iline Boghoskhanian were honored for their tireless efforts in ensuring the success of the annual flagship event.
The ABMDR Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Marilyn Bazarian, Dee Chorlian, and Hratch Postik; the Team of the Year Award was presented to the USC Armenian Graduate Students’ Association; and the ABMDR Special Pride Award was conferred on Hratch Lukassian and Ashot Manukian.
The Gala also featured a Crystal Candle Ceremony, during which the numerous Crystal Candle sponsors symbolically lit the candles placed on their tables. The ceremony was followed by a moving speech delivered by Alique Topalian. A childhood cancer survivor considered “the true spark that started ABMDR,” Topalian, now 20, said, “Every single person in this room has made this mission possible by contributing to it. This is our fight. This is our cause. I thank my parents and the leadership and volunteers of ABMDR, who have worked so hard to make it a success. I know its next 15 years will be even more successful.”
The Gala was made all the livelier by several musical performances, featuring violinist Artashes Mnatsakanyan and singers Mister X (Arthur Hakobyan) and Anushik Hakobyan.
In the concluding segment of the event, a large Crystal-anniversary cake was cut to the delight of the audience, and the winners of the 2014 ABMDR Lottery were announced following a drawing by the young ABMDR Angels.
Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians and non-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 26,000 donors in 20 countries across four continents, identified 2,481 patients, and facilitated 20 bone marrow transplants.
For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.