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3rd Annual Miles4Merak Step Challenge

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Welcome to the 3rd Annual Miles4Merak Step Challenge!

**Please note, when making your donation you must complete all fields on the payment page. If you experience any issues or have questions regarding your donation, please contact Nikisha Belt with UC San Diego Health at

The nursing team at Jacobs Medical Center 4th Floor Surgical Oncology Unit welcomes you to join the 3rd Annual Miles4Merak Step Challenge.

The one week step challenge will begin Saturday, October 1 at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and will conclude Friday, October 7 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). During this one-week time frame, all participant steps will be eligible to count towards the challenge. 100% of your gift will benefit vital funding for gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) cancer research in memory of Merak Melikian Hatounian.

Registration is easy and only takes two steps:

1. Make a personal gift of $25, or more, to the GIST Research Fund 3661. Click on the "make a gift" button above to make your donation. With this donation, you will be able to register as a participant in the step challenge.**

**If you would like to donate by check, please make your check payable to the UC San Diego Foundation Fund 3661. In the memo line please note "Miles for Merak."

Please mail your check to:

The UC San Diego Foundation
9500 Gilman Drive #0940
La Jolla, CA 92093-0940

2. After making a gift register as a participant by visiting

Participants and teams will have the opportunity to vie for the following awards:*

    Team Awards:
    • Top Nursing Unit and/or Department team with the highest steps accumulated (team average)
    • Top Nursing Unit and/or Department with the most participants
    • Top Community Formed Team with the highest steps accumulated (team average)
    Individual Awards:
    • Individual with the most steps accumulated
    • Individual with most steps converted from their activities
    • Individual with most steps plus activities converted to steps
    * There will be a post event check and award presentation so please stay tuned for more information!

    For more information about the Miles4Merak Step Challenge please visit or email

    Merak Melikian Hatounian

    Merak Melikian Hatounian was diagnosed with a rare hereditary form of cancer known as SDH-deficient Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (SDH-deficient GIST) at the age of 20. Currently, there is no cure.

    Merak refused to let cancer define him as he lived his life on his own terms with drive and fierce determination. He learned how to fight cancer by watching his late father, Keith, bravely fight a related rare cancer. No matter how difficult cancer’s challenges got, Keith never complained. Merak never complained.

    Merak continued to maintain his positive attitude and outlook and kept fighting, all the while inspiring and motivating others, near and far. Sadly, in February of 2020 Merak, at 25 years old, passed away with his loving mother, Debra Melikian, by his side at UC San Diego. We all agree, Merak touched so many lives and his memory will live on with everyone who knew and loved him.

    "What a difference one person can make in the life of another. Please help us find a cure so no other family must endure the despair and destruction that this cancer brings." ~ Debby Melikian

    “Merak’s legacy will be one of hope that will benefit GIST research and GIST patients for years to come. When in the future – the near future, I hope – there will be a cure for this rare and terrible cancer, it will be in part because of Merak Melikian Hatounian.” – Dr. Jason Sicklick

    We also encourage you to spread the word by asking friends, family and colleagues to donate in support of your participation, and more importantly, towards this vital cause!

Thanks To Our Recent Donors!

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