2015 AYF Olympics: ‘Stand Up for Your Survivor’

The Providence committee had a serious discussion early on in their planning process. It was asked that, given it is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, was it appropriate to even have the AYF Olympic Games this year? It was a good and necessary discussion to have, and they made a right decision to continue the 82-year tradition. I would imagine any survivor would have said, “Absolutely, the AYF Olympics is one of the symbols that we not only survived but thrived and created an Armenia in the diaspora.” Our churches, organizations, and events keep us together, help us thrive, maintain our nationality, and thus allow us to say #TurkeyFailed.

Antranig and Anahis Kechejian standing Up for their survivors

This discussion led to both the Saturday Night Cultural Evening and the “Stand Up and March for Your Survivor” at the Opening Ceremonies. Both were very successful and perhaps permanent additions to AYF Olympic experience.

In the Opening Ceremonies of the track and field on Sunday, the athletes always march, chapter by chapter, past the grandstands to line up on the field by the podium. This year in honor of the 100th anniversary, many of the athletes carried a poster with a picture of a survivor from their family—a survivor who in some way was responsible for that athlete being an AYF member and marching in that parade on Sept. 6, 2015. It was most impressive and touching to witness this.

The idea for doing this was brilliant on the part of the AYF Olympic Committee. Carrying posters of survivors, however, was not a new idea. It was the idea of Anahis Kechejian, a member of the Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter. Anahis’s brilliant idea was born in 2011. She had been attending the Genocide Commemoration at the Massachusetts State House for several years. She noted, with some sadness, that there were less survivors present each year and that soon there would be none. In typical AYF fashion, she decided to do something about it. Her idea was simple and powerfully effective: Every year, anyone who so desired would send a photo of their survivor to standupforyoursurvivor@gmail.com. Anahis would crop the photo to get a good headshot, perhaps do a little PhotoShop-like enhancement, and then print the poster-sized photo of the survivor for the person who sent the photo to carry to the State House Commemoration. She did all this on her own, with perhaps some funding from her parents Steve and Linda.


Ida Krikorian, the AYF chair of the Opening Ceremonies, knew of Anahis’s good work and contacted her to do this. Anahis enthusiastically agreed. The Olympic Committee then did the publicity to get members to send their photos to Anahis and voila…“Stand Up for Your Survivor” became a touching part of the Opening Ceremonies at the AYF Olympics.


Anahis is a third-year mechanical engineering major at Northeastern University. She plans on continuing the “Stand Up For Your Survivor” program for April 24th commemorations at the Massachusetts State House and is more than happy to do it for the AYF Olympics moving forward if asked. Do you hear that, New Jersey? When asked about this wonderful project she created and about the AYF using it this year, Anahis said, “I am really grateful that the Providence Chapter reached out and included ‘Stand Up for Your Survivor’ in the Olympics. It is important for all of us to remember those in our families who struggled, suffered, and persevered to create a new life in the U.S. As AYF members, we are proud of that legacy and heritage.”

Brava, Anahis Kechejian!



New Jersey


Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: 2015 AYF Olympics: ‘Stand Up for Your Survivor’

Your generosity empowers our advocacy, inspires our work, and sustains our momentum.