NATO and U.S. veterans drove over $2 million worth of much needed equipment and humanitarian supplies into the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv last Friday, calling it a “Christmas Convoy.”
The convoy, led by veterans from the U.S., U.K., Poland and Australia, consisted of more than 50 cars and military-ready light trucks carrying 75 energy generators, 250 wood burning stoves and other critical winter equipment. At the moment, more than half of Kyiv is without power – a critical blow as temperatures in the city have creeped below freezing.
“Hearing that some of them are experiencing hypothermia and even some deaths just from this cold weather, I decided to go as soon as I got the invitation,” said U.S. veteran Earl Granville. “I know firsthand the power of what a community can do – and with the help of some charity, people can move mountains.”
Granville served nine years with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and lost his leg during his third tour in Afghanistan. He was one of several amputees who joined the convoy.
U.S. Army veteran Taylor Harter decided to bring prosthetics to donate to injured Ukrainians in addition to the supplies he helped escort into the city.
“The last time I was in a war zone I was carried out on a stretcher, so being able to do this meant a lot,” said Harter, an amputee who lost his leg.
“I’m very happy the prosthetics and supplies I donated can be put to use by the guys and help get them back on their feet,” said Harter.
Several organizations helped orchestrate the Christmas Convoy, including Tactivate – a nonprofit disaster response organization that’s been providing a wide array of equipment to Ukraine since the start of the war.
Another key figure behind the convoy was Joe De Sena, the CEO and founder of Spartan Race endurance events, one of the world’s premier obstacle course races.
“This humanitarian mission is showing the rest of the world that when a bully picks on any of us, they’re picking on all of us,” said De Sena. “The Spartan Race community is 10 million strong and spans 50 countries – this is a show of our solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
When asked if he worried about the risks that come with driving a humanitarian convoy through a war zone, De Sena – who was there himself – responded: “Have you seen the name of our company?”
“We have a massive community all around the world,” De Sena said regarding how the convoy came to fruition. “We asked some of our veterans and – as you can see – a bunch raised their hands.”
U.S. Army veteran Kemar Ebanks drove one of the vehicles departing from Rzeszow in Poland during the two-day journey to Kyiv.
“We want to show that veterans understand the hardships the people of Ukraine are enduring and we are doing whatever we can to help in the fight for freedom,” said Ebanks, who hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina. “At Christmas time, when we celebrate good will between people, we wanted to give real support on the ground to the Ukrainian people – this is what the spirit of Christmas means to us.”