St. James Armenian Church participated in 3rd Annual New England walkathon of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) on September 27th. The Walk of Life followed a 2.2-mile route through Watertown, where participants went on to enjoy great music, dancing, and food, along with thousands of people attending the annual Faire on the Square festival. The festive Walk of Life garnered broad community support, with over 250 supporters, including more than 100 children and young adults, and 22 local and national organizations taking part. Thanks to the support of major donors, and the community, the walkathon has raised over $18,000 to date.
This year’s walkathon was dedicated to five-year-old leukemia patient Gabriel, the son of Fr. Arakel and Yn. Natasha. Gabriel was diagnosed in 2012. He has since undergone therapy at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and his leukemia is currently in remission, with his final dose of chemotherapy scheduled on December 24th.
“I can’t say enough about this child,” Yn. Natasha said, referring to Gabriel’s courage while receiving debilitating chemo and steroid therapy, which will conclude in December. She also praised Gabriel’s classmates and teachers as well as the parishioners of St. James Armenian Church for their support. “When they saw him with no hair or extremely puffy, the St. James Sunday School and St. Stephen’s students alike were remarkable,” she said. “They just rolled with it. The kids have been so amazing for him.”
St. James Armenian Church and ACYOA (Gabriel’s team) were recognized as the team which raised the most funds. Like last year, the prizes consist of a new cluster of trees which will be planted in Armenia by the Armenian Tree Project (ATP), in honor of each winning team and individual. 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 22 countries across four continents, identified 3,150 patients, and facilitated 20 bone marrow transplants. For more information, visit abmdr.am.
Click here to view photos from the day.