By Taylor Dixon
Every four days, Tatiana Arabadzhy‘s mother makes the nearly two-hour journey from her home in Ukraine to another city to buy food for the hundreds of people in her village. Recently, the warning sirens, which have been going off day and night signaling residents to find shelter, went off during one of those shopping trips. Russian planes and helicopters flew across the sky as her mother stood in the store, frozen in fear.
Fortunately, she survived to tell her daughter the tale.
Arabadzhy, with the help of a Carmel cycling and strength fitness studio, has been raising money to send to her friends and family still in Ukraine.
“I don’t make enough money to be able to help all of them by myself,” Arabadzhy said. “With the help of the community, we can change lives and we can give hope to people, more than just my family and friends.”
Cathy Miller, owner of InCycle in Carmel City Center, knew when she first heard about the Russian attacks in Ukraine in late February she wanted to help.
“Just getting up every day and seeing the news and seeing what was happening to the people in Ukraine, I just felt like I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing, and I didn’t know what I could do,” Miller said.
Then, one of the instructors at InCycle introduced her to Arabadzhy, the instructor’s hair stylist.
Arabadzhy has been in the United States for 15 years but her family remains in Ukraine. Her mother, three siblings, nephew and stepson, as well as her husband’s family, are stuck in villages and cities in Ukraine that are occupied by Russian forces.
Arabadzhy’s husband, a former police officer in Ukraine, was so upset by the attacks that he wanted to go back to fight for his country. His wife talked him out of it.
“Honestly, I’m ready to go to Ukraine and to protect my family. If my husband is going to go, I’m definitely going with him,” Arabadzhy said. “But we both realize that we won’t be able to do as much as we can do from here.”
Part of the money they are raising is going to Ukrainian police to help fund equipment like helmets, bullet proof vests, proper shoes and night vision glasses.
InCycle has raised more than $7,000 for Arabadzhy’s family, who are very grateful for the help. The official fundraiser ended March 27, but donations will still be accepted through incycleindy.com/ukraine-fundraiser.
“(Donors are) not just saving lives, they’re giving people hope, courage,” Arabadzhy said. “Knowing that there is somebody behind them and helping them out, it gives them even bigger strength to fight for their lives. To me, that’s really amazing.”