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Rally for Ukraine held in Grand Rapids

Posted at 10:31 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 22:38:18-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — People in Grand Rapids rallied in support of Ukraine on Thursday. 

Ukrainian music and the colors of the country’s flag, blue and yellow, filled Ah-Nab-Awen Park. 

“They’re fighting,” said Kyle Freund. “They’re fighting for what is the most noble and sacred thing to fight for. The young and the old, the sick and the weak.”

Freund and his wife, Tetiana, organized the event. Tetiana immigrated to Grand Rapids roughly seven years ago, but most of her family, including her parents, and friends remain in Kyiv.

According to Tetiana, her elderly parents were finally able to flee to Poland after days of frantic messages and coordination efforts.

“When you [get a] text, you’re thinking, '[Do] I have one more text? Or [not]?'” said Tetiana.

READ MORE:“It gives spirit to our country"; Ukrainian exchange student in West Michigan starts fundraiser

Olena Poplavska said the event gave her a needed break. For the past week she has spent her time praying for her grandmother, uncle and the husbands of her friends who stayed behind to protect her small hometown near the Belarusian border.

“When we see that footage on the TV from the news about people crossing the border, I’m looking into those people’s faces, thinking [that] the people I love could be there,” said Poplavska.

In East Ukraine, Liliya Kalyenich says her grandfather wants to defend his country too. 

“My 72-year-old grandpa is in training right now,” said Kalyenich. “He has a visa to come here; he could’ve escaped whenever he could, but he said he’s going to fight; he’s going to fight for his people, and his country.”

READ MORE:Kalamazoo businesses support Ukraine by donating portion of proceeds from sales

Attendees say Ukraine’s fight is part of something bigger.

“We are not only fighting for Ukraine; we are fighting for the peace and safety of Europe and the whole world,” said Poplavska. “What Putin is doing and his mindset threatens the whole humankind.”

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