Anahit Barseghyan, who was instrumental in starting the organization

Bridge of Health Guyn Gala Helps Give Children Battling Cancer a Fighting Chance

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By Michael Melkonian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

LOS ANGELES — On September 23, the fourth annual Bridge of Health Guyn (Color) Gala was held at the Great Caesar Banquet Hall in Tujunga. People from all backgrounds, many of them young adults, and from across the country, congregated with the goal of raising awareness and funds to benefit children in Armenia battling cancer. Guests included the city of Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, film actor Ken Davitian, and writer and publisher of the California Courier, Harut Sassounian.

Master of Ceremonies Tatevik Ekezian kicked off the gala with her the opening remarks as she provided an overview of the Bridge of Health organization and its mission of helping pediatric cancer patients at various stages of need including diagnostic, recovery, and drug funding. This non-profit organization is the link which connects pediatric cancer patients in Armenia with the financial means necessary for optimal care and recovery.

Ekezian then introduced the opening entertainers of the evening’s program. Comedians Mary Basmadjian and Michael Passion entertained the assembled with jokes and impersonations while drawing roaring laughter from the audience. Guests dined as the internationally acclaimed virtuoso guitarist Vahagni serenaded them with classical music.

One of the paintings for sale

The Armenia Chapter President of the Bridge of Health, Anahit Barseghyan, was then called upon to speak. Barseghyan shared her emotional story as she described receiving the news that her young son had developed cancer and her gratitude to the Bridge of Health for coming into their lives and funding the treatments which eventually cured him.

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A video of one of the Bridge of Health supported facilities in Armenia showed young cancer patients as they were laughing and being entertained by superheroes and Disney princesses, all the while continuing to receive treatment on the arduous road to recovery.

Robert Agaverdian, president and founder of Bridge of Health and the clinical director of Medical, Surgical and Telemetry Units at Pacifica Hospital, was then asked by the master of ceremonies to speak. Agaverdian reflected, “What inspired me to get involved with organizations such as Bridge of Health came from my college years, when I saw a picture of a young Armenian child fighting for his life and was very moved.  I then raised money through my fraternity to help the child get through the many expensive cancer treatments. This got me to create Bridge of Health with a few other people, which is dedicated to helping as many children in Armenia as possible to fight cancer.” Agaverdian spoke about the Bridge of Health’s many achievements, including how the organization has helped more than 120 children in Armenia battle cancer, in which many were able to beat cancer completely and are alive and well today.

Agaverdian’s moving speech was then followed by acclaimed Armenian singer Armen Aloyan and whose songs brought the guests to the dance floor.  The dancing continued with the performance of Sam Babayan and The Dirty Diamond Band, a crowd favorite who performs at packed Los Angeles venues including the House of Blues, the Viper Room and the Troubadour.

Sam Babayan and The Dirty Diamond Band

Meline Aleksanyan, a medical committee member, then spoke about how the Bridge of Health established a cancer registry in Armenia, the first of its kind in the country. This was then followed by yet another artistic component, poet Lilit Malkhasyan, who recited several of her works.

Every cent of the money raised, according to the Bridge of Health team, will go to children in Armenia, which in turn, helped make this event not only memorable, but meaningful.

Comedian Michael Passion

To learn more about the organization, visit https://www.bridgeofhealth.org/

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