Ukrainian Olympic Gold Medalist Leads Rescue Efforts During Russian Invasion

by Victoria Santiago
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Tony Duffy/ALLSPORT

A Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist is leading rescue efforts for threatened athletes and civilians amid the Russian invasion. Figure skater Oksana Baiul-Farina was the first Ukrainian woman to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Now, she’s busy helping other athletes during this conflict. According to her, the Russia-Ukraine crisis has been “very difficult” on athletes. Thus, she’s doing everything she can to help.

“[Ukrainians are] asking me for help. We are trying to create a platform in the United States for them,” she said. “We’re not asking people to donate or give us money. We’re just thinking of how we can create a platform here in the United States to help the athletes to come here and work.”

Ukrainian Olympic Gold Medalist Has Made This Crisis Her ‘Top Priority’

Since Russia started launching multiple attacks on Ukraine in late February, Baiul-Farina has been busy leading several rescue initiatives. In fact, she’s even said that helping people amid this invasion has become her top priority.

Last week, Baiul-Farina helped put together a peace rally at Las Vegas City Hall, with the goal of supporting Ukraine. The event had nearly 200 people show up. The Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist was at the event and spoke about the situation in her home country. She said that even though the United Stated “adopted her” when she was 15 years old, she will always view Ukraine as her home.

Baiul-Farina’s Hometown Has Been Hit Hard By Invasion

Oksana Baiul-Farina was born in Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine. However, at that time, her country was still part of the Soviet Union.

Fox Business reports that Russian airstrikes hit her hometown in a direct attack on the Ukrainian city, Dnipro on Friday, March 11. The Olympic gold medalist said that she was in contact with American athletes who were near the invasion.

“People on the ground in Dnipro, there [are] civilians who are fighting for the country. They’re asking me to find the money, to help them … they need power bars,” she said.

“That’s what they want, because when they are fighting and sleeping on … ice-cold grounds, they can’t make food … but they can have a power bar in their pocket, and they can take it out, open it … eat it … have energy … that’s what they’re asking me to help them with.”

Thousands Of Donations Are Being Shipped To Ukraine

Many nonprofits and businesses are taking it upon themselves to collect donations for Ukraine. In fact, one donation effort has already received thousands of items. Moto Leader Global is using a shipping container to collect items for citizens and refugees of Ukraine. When the shipping container is full, they will send it off.

Any items are welcome, but Ukrainians especially need ready-to-eat food. Toiletries, warm clothes, blankets, diapers, batteries, and flashlights are all popular items to donate. The company has made an Amazon wish list for those that wish to donate but cannot do so in person.

For those that can drop off in person, donations are being accepted at two locations:

  • CIL Capital, 805 N. 23rd Street, Wilmington, NC 28405
  • Moto Leader Global, 1270 Cedar Hill Road, Navassa, NC 28451

Donations can be dropped off Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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