New York Jets plan 3 week tribute to Ukraine to raise awareness of relief efforts

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Suzanne’s father died in 2019 and she said he never believed an independent European country could be invaded again. Suzanne is well aware of the long and difficult history of Ukrainian-Russian relations, and said she didn’t like people calling it a “conflict” — “It was an unprovoked invasion,” said she declared.

Suzanne wanted to honor her legacy and educate her sons, Brick, 16, and Jack, 13, about the toll of the war and what she hopes is their generation’s responsibility to eventually rebuild Ukraine. Two weeks ago, Woody and Suzanne took their sons to Poland, Ukraine’s western neighbor, which has taken in more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees as the war approaches six months.

They visited an orphanage, a community center where Ukrainians can gather and share meals, a summer camp for displaced Ukrainian children and a shelter for women and children who fled with nothing more than a suitcase. , often leaving their husbands and fathers behind. Young children go to local schools, despite the language barrier. High school students attend school online.

“We focused on kids meeting kids and talking,” Suzanne said. “They’ve never seen their community lock down, stock up and barrel. The kids are resilient. The parents are sitting in the back crying. They had to leave with a suitcase. We went to a center Shelter is like a school dormitory. It’s devastating. The women try to keep a good frame of mind for the kids. Just imagine, “You have 30 minutes, grab a suitcase and go.” war is the most tragic thing you can imagine. And for what? All these young men and women are going to die – for what? It’s the hardest thing for me and my family. It’s so absurd.

“I’ve been on many trips with my kids. I’ve never seen them at the end of the trip kiss me and say, ‘Thank you for bringing me. “

Just before the family left on their trip, Brick Johnson was watching the Wimbledon Championships and overheard the world’s highest ranked tennis player, Iga Swiatek, talking about a charity tennis exhibition she was hosting in her native Poland in benefit from Ukrainian aid. Brick and Jack attended the event while in Poland, and the family donated their $100,000 for July to United24, the fund launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a primary venue for charitable giving to support Ukraine. The funds donated by the Johnsons will go to support children’s hospitals in Ukraine, particularly for the purchase of pediatric artificial lung ventilation machines.

Suzanne Johnson said there are also plans to make a donation to support the work of a missionary who has transformed a hotel that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic into a haven for refugee families. The Jets have chosen to make the donations in monthly installments so that the money can be directed to the most pressing needs of the moment.

She hopes that the presence of the Ukrainian flag at a game will catch the attention of the millions of people watching the game. Suzanne fears that the war will not be over by then, and with another winter approaching in Ukraine, the needs will only become more urgent.

“We have to keep the awareness up,” she said. “We don’t do anything political. We just focus on humanitarianism, doing as much to help them until they can go back to their country, to give as much as we can and through our donations, put- the on our website.That’s all we can do.

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