Ballet dancers connect to send military supplies to Ukraine

American Hero

(NewsNation) —Like many other Americans, California ballet dancer Kirsten Bloom Allen felt stuck on the sidelines watching Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine play out.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian ballet dancer Oleksii Potiomkin had put his ballet career aside to join the Ukrainian defense forces in Kyiv, serving as a medic.

Bloom Allen wanted to help the Ukrainian war effort and Potiomkin, like many Ukrainian soldiers ,was in need of supplies.

Despite sitting on opposite sides of the world, Bloom Allen and Potiomkin were able to connect in a story that provides at least one silver lining to a war that has devastated the lives of million in Ukraine.

Bloom Allen found Potiomkin on social media and asked what she could do to help and what he needed.

Oleksii, fighting the invading Russia forces, who rained missiles and artillery barrages down on Kyiv, was alone in Ukraine after his wife and 4-year-old son fled to Italy for safety.

Potiomkin was in dire need of one crucial military item: a combat helmet.

“Is there anything I can ship here from the U.S.? And the first thing he said he didn’t have was a helmet and I just thought that was absolutely crazy to be a soldier, a ballet dancer turned soldier, without a helmet,” Bloom Allen said.

Bloom Allen was able to secure Potiomkin a helmet. But getting it to him required the help of a network of ballet dancers around Europe.

She had the helmet shipped to a ballet dancer in Amsterdam, Netherlands, who then shipped the helmet again to a dancer in Poland who was able to get it to Potiomkin in Kyiv.

“The war started in the West with Russian forces being very close to Kyiv so I wanted to send almost everyone in my extended family to a safe place,” Potiomkin said. “I joined the Ukraine paramedics… and we all who stayed in Kyiv to try and fight with the enemy and work around Kyiv and close to Kyiv.”

Items like helmets and medical supplies are crucial for the outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian army to fend off the Russian forces.

Last week, the Biden administration approved spending $800 million in aid for Ukraine, which included the U.S. and other NATO countries sending howitzer artillery guns, armored vehicles and other weapons to Ukraine. This week, Biden asked Congress to approve $33 billion more in spending for the war.

The aid is much needed for the soldiers.

“Ukraine’s army has more equipment, but volunteers, we’re not professionals,” Potiomkin said. “So if we can find equipment to be more safe on front lines, Kirsten helped with this. I am very happy for the artwork world, it is a good community who help each other.”

Bloom Allen started a donation link on her website and said donations have been pouring in.

“People have been so incredibly generous and they’ve been donating food, donating medical supplies, they’ve been donating money,” Bloom said. “People really want to help. I think a lot of people like me, we feel helpless in this, sitting here in the United States.”

“By starting this donation link and connecting with Oleksii and carving out this channel to get supplies into Ukraine, I think a lot of people have felt like they’re doing something by donating,” Bloom said.

Stories like Bloom Allen’s and Potiomkin’s are a ray of sunshine for a war that has darkened the lives of Ukrainians. New data from the United Nations estimates 8 million citizens will flee Ukraine during the war.

Thousands of Ukrainians soldiers and citizens, including children have been killed in the war.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022