The eleventh annual Walk of Life walkathon was held on October 1 in Glendale, California and included around three hundred participants. Among those taking part in the lifesaving mission this year were community leaders, elected officials, various school teams, and community organizations, as well as a team consisting of cancer survivors who call themselves "Walk Angels."
The opening ceremony was held in the plaza of the Glendale City building, there the Co- Chairs of the Walkathon Committee, Dr. Sharlene Gozalians, and Marine Khachatryan delivered a warm welcome speech.
Taleen Vartanian of the Foundation Laboratory expressed her gratitude toward Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) President Dr. Frieda Jordan and her colleagues as well as the volunteers who dedicated so much to the growth and development of the ABMDR. The organization has been a source of hope and has reached Armenians all over the world.
Some of the cancer survivors, including two young sisters, Cynthia and Bliss shared their stories. Participant, Roza Diremsizyan, was there to support her son Alex who is a leukemia survivor and had a few words to say. The speakers shared stories of their difficult times but also their survival, and stressed the importance of a good support system.
Dr. Jordan mentioned how inspiring patients like Alex Diremsizyan are to her. She went on to say that along with her colleagues they would not give up doing their work as long as there are patients who are in need of their help. As she further addressed the crowd, she told them how valuable their support has been and thanked them all for empowering the organization to assist patients across the world in saving their lives. She ended off by saying, "With every step that you take today, remember those who need your help, and those in whose honor you'll be walking."
Just before the walk started, the participants enjoyed a great warm up session to music led by a fitness trainer from Total Women, who have volunteered at the walkathon each year for the past seven years. To get things going, Alex Diremsizyan had the honor of cutting the ribbon.
[caption id="attachment_3069" align="alignright" width="300"] A proud moment for Alex Diremsizyan as he cuts the ribbon at the starting point[/caption]
The five-kilometer stretch headed through central Glendale with a stop for a water break at the Armenian Consulate where participants were greeted and cheered on by Consulate officials.
The walk finished off at the plaza of the Glendale City building where the festivities continued. The event was also an opportunity for anyone interested in joining the ABMDR as potential bone marrow donors. Volunteers were available to answer questions and welcome them.
ABMDR is a nonprofit organization, assisting Armenians and non-Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses since 1999. Their goal is to recruit and match donors to patients in need of transplants. The registry has recruited almost thirty thousand donors in more than forty countries on four continents. They have identified four thousand two hundred patients and facilitated twenty-seven bone marrow transplants.