Annual event receives broad community and mainstream support
LOS ANGELES—More than 400 supporters attended White Carnival: Match for Life Gala, the annual benefit dinner of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR). The festive community event, which marked several recent milestones, was held on July 15 at the Hilton Hotel in Glendale, California.
The Gala kicked off with a cocktail hour, when guests socialized and had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction.
The main program of the evening began with the opening address of Tatevik Ekezian Madjarian, who spoke of the altruistic cause advanced by the registry, and invited Gala co-chair Amy Boyadjian to the podium.
In her welcome remarks, Boyadjian acknowledged the presence of numerous dignitaries, community leaders, and representatives of hospitals. They included Glendale City Council members Ara Najarian, Laura Friedman, and Rafi Manoukian; Glendale Assistant City Manager Yasmin Beers; representatives of US Congressman and longtime ABMDR supporter Adam Schiff and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Michael Antonovich; Father Dajad Yardemian of the Western Diocese; Father Vazken Atmajian of the Western Prelacy; Pastor Sarkis Petoyan of the St. Gregory Church in Pasadena; Father Joseph Matossian, Minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Greg Krikorian, president of the Glendale Unified School District; Kevin Roberts, president and CEO of Glendale Adventist Medical Center; Arpi Kestenian, representing Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center; Dr. Nina Kapoor, representing the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; Dr. Ketevan Gendzekhadze of City of Hope; Dr. Karo Arzoo of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center; and representatives of community organizations including the Armenian American Medical Society of California, Armenian Relief Society, and Knights and Daughters of Vartan.
As he took the stage following Boyadjian’s address, Master of Ceremonies and ABMDR Board of Directors Chair Mark Geragos, Esquire, jokingly commented: “This is the first year that the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has more donors among its ranks than the FBI has Armenians in its database.”
“In fact, there were many firsts for ABMDR during the past year,” Geragos continued. “Thanks to the registry’s efforts, Armenia became the first country in the Caucasus to host a conference of the European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI); another achievement was reached when Dr. Jordan was appointed to the prestigious position of EFI Inspector, representing our homeland to the global immunogenetics community; and just last week she was honored with the St. Nerses the Graceful Medal.”
“No matter what our differences are as Armenians, we all share the same unique genetic makeup,” Geragos said in conclusion. “This is why it’s so critically important to support the work of ABMDR, which saves lives by matching donors to all those diagnosed with life-threatening blood-related illnesses.”
Next the attendees were shown a short video documentary about the history and current activities of ABMDR.
The screening was followed by the keynote speech of Dr. Frieda Jordan.
“Tonight I am here to thank you for making our mission possible and letting us achieve a groundbreaking year of significant firsts,” Dr. Jordan began.
As she spoke of the many ABMDR milestones during the past year, Dr. Jordan mentioned the registry’s first-ever Walkathon in Fresno, and announced that this year the organization will also launch a Walkathon in Boston.
Dr. Jordan went on to convey her gratitude to ABMDR’s Lifetime Supporters; major event sponsors including Glendale Adventist Medical Center; the Western Diocese and the Western Prelacy; and various ABMDR committees.
Afterwards Dr. Jordan invited to the podium Dr. Sevak Avagyan, Executive Director of ABMDR and head of the registry’s Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan.
“ABMDR is an organization run by volunteers, but it’s operated at a very high level of professionalism,” Dr. Avagyan said. “This requires vision and leadership, but, especially, dedicated supporters like you. Thank you for taking this organization forward.”
Following Dr. Avagyan’s remarks, the guests were treated to a set of performances by singer Martik Kanian and others.
Subsequently Dr. Jordan invited this year’s ABMDR honorees to the stage, where she and Laura Friedman handed out the awards. The Woman of the Year and Man of the Year Award were conferred on Salpi Mankerian and Dr. Boris Bagdasarian, respectively; the Volunteer of the Year awards were bestowed on Ilin Boghoskhanian, Amalia Kiureghlian, and Armond Mehdikhani; and the Business of the Year Award was given to David Yeretsian of Sasoun Bakery. In addition, Dr. Jordan announced that patient Irene Hamptian Katrandjian has received the Angel of Courage Award for her efforts in support of the ABMDR mission.
The awards presentation also included the conferment of Certificates of Appreciation on ABMDR Lifetime Supporters, benefactors, and event sponsors.
The Gala drew to a close with the announcement of this year’s ABMDR lottery winners.
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 22,000 donors in 16 countries across four continents, identified 2,135 patients, and facilitated 13 bone marrow transplants.