The Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) recently received the enthusiastic support of Boston’s Armenian community through two highly anticipated events, the “Jazz for Life” benefit concert and the 69th Grand Convocation of the Daughters of Vartan.
Headlined by world-renowned singer Datevik Hovanesian, “Jazz for Life” was held on June 27 at the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) center in Arlington, drawing hundreds of jazz aficionados and supporters. The concert, organized and sponsored by the Amaras Art Alliance of Watertown and the ACF, benefited the ABMDR’s current and forthcoming projects.
The concert program started with a wine and cheese reception hosted by long-time ABMDR supporters Mr. and Mrs. Kegham Varjabedian, in memory of their cousin Anahid Varjabedian. After welcoming the audience, ACF Board member Dr. Nishan Goudsouzian invited Richard Boyajian, R.N., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to share his experiences with the attendees.
A survivor of leukemia thanks to a bone marrow transplant, Boyajian underscored the critical importance of the ABMDR as he related his moving odyssey of disappointments, courage, hope, and recovery. “I was the lucky recipient of an unrelated match 12 years ago, when I was diagnosed with leukemia,” he recalled. “Most leukemia patients are not so lucky. A unique registry such as the ABMDR is vital for Armenian patients, no matter where they may be in the world.”
“The ABMDR’s accomplishments are astonishing,” Boyajian continued. “The registry’s newly opened Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan is world-class and second to none. It is equivalent to what we have here in the U.S. It takes a huge effort and commitment to come this far.”
Nora Orchanian, a Boston supporter of the ABMDR who was instrumental in organizing recruitments for a leukemia patient in 2007, spoke of her experience working with the registry during stressful times, when the family of the patient not only needed to find a match but also to know that there are people that care and are willing to help. “The ABMDR gave us hope,” Orchanian said. “[ABMDR Board president] Dr. Frieda Jordan, all the volunteers, and all the donors who have registered are filled with love and charity. Let us not let this evening go by without making a commitment to support this wonderful organization.”
Throughout the “Jazz for Life” concert, Datevik dazzled her fans with her signature jazz stylings, including innovative renditions of classics by Komitas and Sayat Nova, as well as beloved performances of her own original songs, often spiced with exuberant improvisations. Datevik, who had traveled from New York to appear at the concert, was accompanied by her trio, comprising Bob Albanese, David Meade, and Joe Fitzgerald. “I am extremely proud to be part of this event and very glad you are all here supporting an absolutely crucial cause for our people,” said Datevik, a longtime supporter of the ABMDR.
“We all have to pay our dues,” the singer continued. “I hope to give joy to my audiences so that they, in return, feel more generous toward important causes such as that of the ABMDR,” she said.
“Jazz for Life” aimed to raise awareness of the mission of the ABMDR, which helps Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related diseases by recruiting and matching donors for bone marrow stem cell transplants. Recently the ABMDR reached a milestone when it opened its Stem Cell Harvesting Center in Yerevan, and has plans to establish a bone marrow transplant center in the capital.
“The concert is also a celebration of the launch of the Stem Cell Harvesting,” said organizer and Amaras Art Alliance president Arax Badalian. “We hope to raise funds to sponsor the cryobank lab at the center, where harvested stem cells are frozen and stored for later use.”
The Amaras Art Alliance promotes Armenian culture and education through performing arts, youth exchange programs, and children’s day camps. “We are honored to sponsor ‘Jazz for Life,’ an event that allows our artists to participate in a vital cause for the health and well-being of Armenian children and adults everywhere,” Badalian added.
Collaborating with Daughters of Vartan
A number of ABMDR representatives also participated in another recent Boston event, the Daughters of Vartan’s 69th Grand Convocation. During a special afternoon workshop at the Westin Copley Place Hotel on July 2, Dr. Vergine Madenlian, a member of the ABMDR Board of Directors, gave a video presentation of the registry’s recent achievements and a brief report on the registry’s mission, current activities, and future plans. “The workshop participants were delighted to learn more about the registry’s work,” Madenlian said. “The Daughters of Vartan has a strong, active network of women who are interested in organizing bone marrow donor recruitments in their communities. I find this very encouraging.”
“We have long enjoyed the support of the Daughters of Vartan,” said ABMDR Board member Alvart Badalian. “The registry’s recent accomplishments have generated renewed interest among members of the Daughters of Vartan, who bring their support to several worthy organizations throughout the U.S. We look forward to a closer relationship and strong support for years to come.”
For more information on ABMDR, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.