YEREVAN–Pyunic–the Association for the Disabled in Armenia–held its annual wheelchair marathon on Monday–May 28–to mark the Independence Day of the First Republic of Armenia. Close to 180 disabled children–young adults and volunteers from all regions of Armenia gathered in front of the Opera House in Yerevan to begin the marathon to Etchmiadzin.
Pyunic uses the annual wheelchair marathon to educate the Armenian public about the needs of the disabled. The wheelchair participants–with help of media exposure–show the public that they are part of society and have needs that must be addressed so that they too can contribute to society.
Hakob Abrahamian–president of Pyunic–opened the event by speaking about the relationship between Armenia’s independence and the need for independence for Armenia’s disabled population of over 130,000. He also spoke about Arthur Aboyan–in whose memory the marathon was dedicated. Aboyan was an alumni of the Moorat-Raphael College. The New York chapter of the college alumni group provided the financial support for the marathon in Yerevan.
The marathoners left the Opera House at 11 a.m. with a police escort towards Etchmiadzin. After three resting breaks–the participants and supporters arrived in Etchmiadzin at 3 p.m. They were welcomed and greeted by Paren Srpazan Avetikian–representing Catholicos Karekin II. The Srpazan blessed the participants and encouraged them to be active and fully integrated members of Armenian society. He led the Pyunic group into the main church and recited the Lord’s Prayer with them.
After the completion of the marathon–the participants took part in a party that was co-sponsored by the City Council of Etchmiadzin. Etchmiadzin Mayor Yervand Aghvanyan greeted the guests and congratulated their accomplishment. Pyunic’s Gyumri chapter members entertained the participants with a concert. Dancing and singing groups from Etchmiadzin also took part in the celebration.