DENVER — When Russia first invaded Ukraine, the rest of the world felt helpless. Now, that's changing as people from all over the world, and in Denver, volunteer their time and money to help.
"I have to help my country, and I really tried to do that," said Tania Luchak, an exchange student from Ukraine who is currently studying at Lakewood High Schoool.
Luchak has organized a 5k run benefiting the Ukrainian Army and Ukrainian nonprofits for Sunday at Sloan's Lake.
The 16-year-old says she initially felt helpless watching Russia invade her home country. She says she felt determined to let those emotions become the catalyst for service.
"When the war happened, I decided that I have to include all of my effort and time into this," Luchak said.
Soon after she started organizing the 5k, she met Masha Myslovskaya.
Myslovskaya is also Ukranian but moved to the United States when she was three-years-old.
"I met Tania through Facebook, a 'Ukranians in Facebook' group," Myslovskaya said.
Together, they began exchanging ideas for the run and finding ways to publicize the event.
Recent data from the United Nations estimates that nearly 1,200 Ukranians have died since the start of the Russian invasion.
"My great-grandmother, who recently passed away this past year, and my grandfather — two different sides of the family — they're both Holocaust survivors," Myslovskaya said. "Seeing these photos and seeing the tragedies that are happening, everyone who is on social media right now who can open up their phones and see those same photos, it should be a shock. It should be a shock that this is happening."
Both women still have family overseas. Luchak says her family is in the western portion of Ukraine and is currently safe from the worst impacts of the invasion. Her parents have to evacuate to bomb shelters a few times per week.
Myslovskaya's grandparents live in Crimea. The peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014.
To purchase tickets for the run, click here.