Along with a group of avid Niagara cyclists, Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Christyna Prokipchuk is organizing a fundraiser to help the people of Ukraine.
She is hoping for 100 cyclists who will ride to raise money for Help Us Help, a registered Canadian Ukrainian charity that has been helping in Ukraine for a long time.
The July 23 cycling event is called Steppe Up for Ukraine — the steppes are a region in Southern Ukraine, an area of natural green space with the longest growing season, not unlike our Niagara region, she says, with its farmland and vineyards.
Not only does the name symbolize something important to the people of Ukraine, the cycling distance does as well.
The route is a very scenic, self-guided loop beginning at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Church in Niagara Falls, and will begin with a brief ceremony and blessing, says Prokipchuk.
It has been organized like a group ride, with cyclists choosing a 19-kilometre or a 91-kilometre tour of the Niagara region —
1991 was the year of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Ukraine became independent, she explains.
The route will stop by notable Ukrainian sites along the way, before ending the loop back at the church, with some home-made Ukrainian food, including cabbage rolls.
With a goal of raising $30,000, Prokipchuk says the event will be coupled with a silent auction, and already has some great items to be auctioned, including an original, 36” x 48” oil on canvas painting by local artist Ron Clavier, called Sunflowers.
Prokipchuk, who will soon be welcoming a Ukrainian refugee family into her home, is desperate to do whatever she can to help the people of Ukraine as they flee their homes, fearing for their lives and their children.
Since the beginning of the invasion, Help Us Help, a Canadian registered charity founded in 1993, has been responding to urgent requests for medical supplies in Ukraine, and is supporting the relocation of Ukrainians from high-risk areas to safer locations, including support for residential institutions and orphanages.
For more information, register for the ride, to donate, offer silent auction items or to volunteer or sponsor the event, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/STEPPEUPforUkraine