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Spinning for Syrian Relief


Donning workout gear and ready for a heart-pumping hour of cardio, the thirty-three spinners who came together at a downtown Manhattan gym in November had something greater than their physical fitness in mind. These friends and members of the Armenian community of Greater New York had spent the month leading up to the AGBU Spin for Syria event appealing to their network to donate to the AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund for Syrian Armenians.

In exchange for the generosity of their friends and family, the fundraisers sweated it out in a high-intensity spin class, knowing that every grueling rotation on the stationary bicycle was for the greater good. Since 2012, the AGBU community has raised $2.5 million in donations in support of AGBU's humanitarian assistance in Syria and relief programs for Syrian Armenian refugees restarting their lives abroad. The spin-a-thon added $74,203 to this impressive total. The sum was raised by over 560 donors, who, taking AGBU’s #ICareICan message to heart, donated from $10 to $2,500 and made a significant contribution toward AGBU’s new $2.5 million goal for 2016.

Every dollar counts in alleviating suffering in Syria: $60 feeds a family of four for two weeks, $100 provides milk to 2 children for 2 months and $200 provides clean drinking water for a family for 4 months. Beyond that, the money the spinners raised will help AGBU with food and aid distribution, medical services and equipment, educational programs and children’s services, and displacement support.

Spinner Maral Jebejian, who individually raised $15,550, knows firsthand the desperate need for support to the Armenians of Syria: “When the opportunity presented itself to help Syrian Armenians, my reaction was immediate and visceral. I already knew the seriousness of the situation in Syria, not only through reading the news, but through a personal connection to the country. My uncle lost his home, was wounded by shrapnel fire and only escaped death by chance. My cousin was faced with the impossible decision to leave her family and her dying mother behind in an attempt to save herself and her future. My husband’s cousin, whose son is in the army, also faces the uncertainty of what will become of his son. And these are just the tragic stories I know about personally. I’m certain that there are thousands more. It is absolutely necessary for those of us who are more fortunate to reach out and help. I had the support of my friends and my family who cheered me on, and it felt great to be able to help and give back in some way.”

The New York spinners were joined by counterparts in Los Angeles and Montreal, who modeled how even a small group can make a big difference. “It was great participating in an event which raised funds for such an important cause. Hopefully other AGBU chapters around the world will take note of what New York did and will be inspired to hold their own spin-a-thons to keep the momentum going and continue to raise funds,” said New York spinner Alex Nalbandian.

How will you help ease the suffering of Syrian Armenians? Think about organizing your very own spin-a-thon at a local gym or other fundraising events, such as a brunch, walk-a-thon or an online campaign. Email us at giving@agbu.org and we’ll help you out with the logistics. We look forward to hearing from you!

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December 03, 2015