RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Grey rainclouds gave way to blue skies and sunshine the moment the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) began its annual Fifth Annual 5K Run/Walk at New Jersey’s Overpeck County Park on October 21.
Runners and walkers of all ages participated in the event to raise desperately needed funds to support healthcare and medical treatment for people in Armenia, including the displaced population formerly living in Artsakh. Funds raised will also be used to provide medical training and resources to healthcare providers from Artsakh who were also forced to relocate to Armenia.
In light of the humanitarian crisis caused by Azerbaijan’s military offensive and takeover of Artsakh, a reported 120,000 ethnic Armenians from Artsakh were forced to resettle in Armenia. These refugees are in dire need of medical attention and medication, further pushing Armenia’s already strained healthcare system to its limits. For this reason, AAHPO continues to focus its efforts toward alleviating this shortage of critical resources and medical care by funding hands-on and virtual training to displaced Artsakh physicians as they transition to work in Armenia. Underwriting the cost of curating and sending medical equipment and medicine to the region is also one of AAHPO’s top priorities.
“Each year, our 5K Run/Walk Event continues to grow and is a testament to the dedication and compassion of Armenian-Americans to help their brethren in Armenia,” said AAHPO President Larry Najarian. “The need for physicians, particularly in rural areas of Armenia, has never been greater, and our collaboration with other charitable Armenian-American organizations provides these healthcare professionals with training in current innovative approaches, methods, and technologies in medicine.” Representatives from organizations that have partnered with AAHPO in previous events and showed their solidarity by once again participating include the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA).
New to this year’s event was an intercollegiate race competition for Armenian college students from the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Fordham University, Rutgers University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and other academic institutions.
The 5K course, equal to 3.1 miles, offers scenic views of the Manhattan skyline and picturesque, waterfowl-populated ponds and marshes. But the beauty of the course did not distract the event’s participants, consisting of both seasoned and novice runners, from the focus of the event. Groups of walkers and runners from many different backgrounds and vocations converged as one team to help Armenians in need.