82-Year-Old Cyclist on his 17th Mission
FRESNO - Vatche Soghomonian, the 82-year-old athlete of Homenetmen Scouts, will be riding his bike again for another worthy cause to aid the people of Armenia on April 2.
It was 17 years ago, in 1999, when Vatche rode his bike from capital to capital - Stepanakert to Yerevan to help fund the grape nursery that the Armenian Technology Group, Inc. (ATG) was establishing in Karabagh. Since then, every year he devotes two weeks in the summer to travel to Armenia with his own resources to paddle throughout the countryside to raise funds in support of numerous worthy endeavors.
This year, Vatche has committed himself to help deliver the latest innovation, the Mobile Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MVDL), to Armenia. `This is the most valuable and noble mission that I am undertaking,' said Vatche. In 2004, Vatche, along with his cycling friends, helped deliver four milk collecting-refrigeration tanks for ATG project in Armenia. `I was a lab technician during my college years. Now that I see this portable lab, I can only envision how beneficial it will be to the veterinarians and especially to the dairy farmers.' It will enable the vets to do on-site testing and diagnosis of food producing animals to ensure that they are free of diseases. After all, the consumers, the children and people in Armenia, will benefit from it.
`My goal is to raise enough funds to supply one portable lab this year,' said Vatche.
This innovation is the latest projects of the ATG. Dr. James Reynolds, President of ATG, devoted three years of his time to testing and assembling the lab and delivered the first prototype to Armenia in 2015. ATG's objective is to supply 10 MVDLs, one for each region of Armenia and Karabakh. Each of the units costs $15,000, which includes training and follow-up support to develop baseline diagnostic information and clinical data. The MVDL could be rapidly deployed and activated in any rural location. The ATG mission is simply to help increase farm production and income.