A three-day celebration of sporting achievement and Armenian heritage kicked off this weekend in Los Angeles after a two-year hiatus.
The 45th Anniversary Navasartian Games is hosted by the LA Chapter of Homenetmen, which spans five continents and has 30,000 members.
“Launched in East Los Angeles in 1975, it now boasts the participation of 300 teams, 3,200 athletes, 1,100 scouts and attracts more than 35,000 spectators over an eight-week period each year,” the Games said. Navasartians on their website.
The organization is dedicated to serving children in the community through athletics, scouting, and public service.
“I feel like I’ve been inspired to keep trying and even if I lose I can keep trying to win and get better,” said athlete Mila Festekjian.
Festekjian’s parents played basketball for the organization in the 1980s, and she and her sister Ava continue the tradition and legacy founded more than a century ago by Shavarsh Krissian, who died during the Armenian Genocide.
“I find it incredible that his vision has come to fruition through the work of the generations that have followed him,” said Katy Simonian of the Victory Ball Committee.
Everyone is welcome to participate. Hrashq, which means “miracle” in Armenian, is Homenetmen’s program for athletes with special needs. The founding members have created a coaching system adapted to the needs of each child.
Nanor Kabakian’s son, Aren, is autistic with severe speech apraxia.
“For years, I have dreamed of being able to get my son involved in a community organization alongside his brother, who has no challenges,” Kabakian said.
Aren wrote a poem about her experience.
“We are all different, but alike in that we all want to be loved,” he wrote.
For Homenetmen member Quint Chemnitz, it’s all part of the mission.
“We always say it’s in our blood. We want to lift ourselves and lift others with us,” he said.
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