WATERTOWN, Mass.—Olympian Houry Gebeshian has joined the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), an international organization whose mission is to match unrelated donors to patients in need of stem cell transplants. Boston chapter volunteers took swab samples from inside Gebeshian’s cheeks last week at the St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church bazaar, adding her to an international registry of 31,000 donors.
At the ABMDR table, Gebeshian was greeted by dozens of admirers. Back in 2016, she became the first female to represent Armenia during the Summer Olympics. “It wasn’t the actual competition that was really cool,” said Gebeshian. “It was walking out in the opening ceremonies behind the Armenian flag that was the biggest highlight of my athletic career.”
The Boston native attended preschool and kindergarten at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School. Since she didn’t continue her Armenian education, she missed out on having a larger circle of Armenian friends. But the Olympic stage was an opportunity for her to reconnect. “Competing for Armenia really gave me a sense of who I was and helped me with my identity as an Armenian,” she said.
Now, Gebeshian is a physician’s assistant for labor and delivery. But she tells the Weekly she is still actively involved in the gymnastics community as a coach. She also started her own company called Full Out Collegiate Recruiting. Earlier this year, she traveled to Armenia to evaluate the development of a women’s gymnastics program. “That’s a big dream of mine,” she said, “to build that program and to give girls the same opportunity that I had.”