Armenia Fund Telethon 2008

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Armenia Fund Telethon 2008 Campaign Raises Record Breaking $35 Million

All Time High Public Participation

For Immediate Release ~ December 1, 2008

Contact: Sarkis Kotanjian ~ 818-243-6222

Los Angeles, CA – Airing live from Hollywood, California, Armenia Fund’s 11th International Thanksgiving Day Telethon broke another record by more than doubling last year’s result and raising a total of $35,009,156. The Telethon marks the culmination of a three month international fundraising campaign that included numerous phone-a-thons, radiothons, dinners, charity concerts and other public events. Thanks to the Fund’s more active public outreach programs, the Telethon saw an all time high participation of both grand donors and the general public.

President of the Republic of Armenia, H.E. Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, H.E. Bako Sahakyan, Catholicos of All-Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of Cilicia, His Holiness Aram I, Minister of Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the Honorable Hranush Hakobyan, representatives of all major political, religious and cultural organizations all of whom are also members of the International Board of Trustees of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, made appeals to the worldwide Armenian communities through live or pre-taped appearances.

In his address to the viewers of the Telethon, President Serzh Sargsyan stated, “This is a real opportunity for each and every Armenian family – be it in Armenia or in the Diaspora – to play a role in addressing national challenges. I call on you to be generous and to follow in the long-standing tradition of great Armenian benefactors. We have to fully revive and develop that tradition that largely kept alive our culture, our church, our people and our land even at times when there was no Armenian statehood”.

In her opening remarks Maria Mehranian, Chairperson of Armenia Fund U.S. Western Region quoted William Saroyan’s words that he wrote during his first visit to Armenia in 1935: "It is simply in the nature of Armenians to study, to learn, to question, to speculate, to discover, to invent, to revise, to restore, to preserve, to make, and to give." She continued, “We are a resourceful and prosperous people that add tremendously to the cultures and societies wherever we go. And ultimately, as history has proven, we are survivors. But it is not enough to just survive. We must take charge of our destiny. Today we have a unique window of opportunity to strengthen our Homeland and write our own history.”

Individual donations to the Telethon campaign ranged from several million dollars to several drams. The largest Diaspora donation this year came from a Russia based Armenian businessman and benefactor, Mr. Samvel Karapetyan, who is sponsoring the construction of the Stepanakert General Public Hospital estimated at $15 million. The largest donation from Armenia was that of Mr. Gagik Tsarukyan, who underwrote the construction of four public sport schools in Nagorno Karabakh costing $2 million. The largest donation from the United States came from Los Angeles based Armenia Fund Honorary Member Vahe Karapetian, who contributed $1,000 for every day of 2008 totaling $365,000. Among other large donors were Sergey Hambardzumyan, Seyran Karapetyan, Gennady Stepanyan, ArmRusGazProm Corporation, VivaCell MTS Corporation, Fedik Khachatryan, Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Company, Karabakh Telecom Company, Michael Vardanyan Foundation, Michael Baghdassarov, Eduardo Eurnekian Group, and Samvel Aleksanyan.

“This year’s Telethon is a testament to the strength and unity of our nation. These are trying times for the entire world as it was badly shaken by the current economic crisis. And yet, despite many difficulties and obstacles, Armenians from around the world have come forth and extended a helping hand to their compatriots in the villages of Armenia and Artsakh in an unprecedented show of compassion and patriotism. I think that this is a day when each of us should be especially proud to be Armenian, to be part of a nation that never gives up,” said Ara Vardanyan, Acting Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund.

Telethon 2008 also offered Armenian families a practical way of fulfilling their Armenian national giving (azkayin dourk) – a concept that was at the crux of issues when “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund was formed 17 years ago – by asking to donate $365 for the year 2008 as a part of Armenia Fund’s “Dollar-A-Day” campaign.

“The Dollar-A-Day campaign resonated extremely well with our donors. Preliminary data processing shows that the public participation in Los Angeles and the rest of the U.S. Western Region jumped 10%. I think this is a serious accomplishment given the economic crisis that has hit America hard,” said Sarkis Kotanjian, Public Relations Director of Armenia Fund. “It is a matter of Armenia Fund’s track record and it is a matter of trust in the organization. For eleven years our donors have been watching the Telethons, visiting our project sites in Armenia and Artsakh, seeing what came to life as a result of their donations and witnessing the definite positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters in the Homeland,” stated Kotanjian. Similar growth trends in total public participation were recorded by the Fund’s European affiliates as well added Kotanjian. This is due in part to the affiliates’ greater and more effective outreach campaigns.

The Telethon also presented to the world the richness of Armenian culture and heritage through a variety of traditional, folk and modern Armenian songs and dances featuring live performers from Armenia and the Diaspora – Arame, Razmik Amyan, Gagik Badalyan, Emma and Aramo, Harout Hagopian, Helen, Joseph, Arax Karapetyan, Martik, Gor Mkhitarian, Armen Movsisyan, Sako, Hovhannes Shahbazian, Sonya Varoujian and others. The program also featured live performances by the 2007 and 2008 season winners of Shant TV’s National Singer contest show, Sevak Amroyan and Haykuhi Babakhanyan.