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Two Ukrainian veterans, Maxim Pasechnik and Vadim Kovalenko, have organised two marathon fundraisers in the US to raise money for the rehabilitation of injured military service personnel. The event, called ‘The Marathon of the Indestructible’, aims to raise awareness of the importance of behavioural health and medical treatment for soldiers returning from combat. After successfully raising around $10,000, Pasechnik and Kovalenko plan to use the donations to fund the construction of a mobile center offering psychological assistance to soldiers across Ukraine’s front line.
Ukrainians held a charity marathon in the USA
First in Cincinnati in the pouring rain, then in New York in one of the city’s main parks, two Ukrainians staged charity races in the United States to raise money for the rehabilitation of the military.
Ukrainian veteran paratrooper Maxim Pasechnik and triathlete Vadim Kovalenko came to America to arrange a charity run. They called it the “Marathon of the Indestructible”, because in this way they are trying to prove that you can pull yourself together in any situation.
What to do if doctors do not allow to fight
The athletes held their first marathon back in Ukraine – in Gostomel. The place was not chosen by chance – it was there that Maxim met the war. He was among the assault group that participated in the battles for the Gostomel airport. The fighter was surrounded and got out for several days, walking almost a hundred kilometers. After that, the guy began to have serious problems with his legs. The doctors did not allow him to return to the war. Maxim says: his emotional state was terrible, he, a professional military man, did not understand what to do now. Then the former paratrooper met Vadim, a triathlete from Kharkov. First, they decided to train to put Maxim on his feet, and when he finally didn’t just walk, but ran, they decided to start running marathons to show that everything is possible in this life.
“I wanted to prove to everyone by my own example that a lot can be done with your body, even if you have injuries, serious health problems, or even prostheses – if you wish, you can bring your body into a combat state”, says Maxim.
From Ohio to New York
After the marathon in Gostomel, friends ran the same one in the vicinity of Kharkov – also through memorable places where the most terrible battles took place in the spring of 2022. And after that they received an invitation from the city of Cincinnati in Ohio. This city has been a sister city of Kharkov for many years. In Cincinnati, the marathon had to be run in heavy rain. But on the other hand, with the excellent support of others – along the entire route there were people under umbrellas, with posters and shouting “Glory to Ukraine!”.
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“With the help of running, we want to draw the attention of society to a problem that urgently needs to be addressed right now. This is the rehabilitation of the military, who return for treatment after concussions and with post-traumatic syndrome. Using Maxim as an example, we want to show that you can run, you can play sports, and this really helps. When we ran for the first time, Maxim had just recently undergone surgery on his leg, he was recovering for two months and we had a little more than two weeks to prepare. But he did it!”, says Vadim.
In New York, the guys managed to make a short run on the day of departure – they ran in the morning in Brooklyn Prospect Park. They were joined by members of the Ukrainian running club. Since the beginning of the war, they have been organizing charity races in the Big Apple and saying that now it is especially important to draw the attention of Americans to events in Ukraine, because here everyone has already begun to gradually forget about Russia’s terrorist aggression.
“We organized a couple of Stand with Ukraine races, these were races in Manhattan, we had several hundred people, many Americans, not only Ukrainians. At first, the Americans helped a lot, but now the focus has shifted to other problems of the world, unfortunately– says Anna Shpuk, founder of the Ukrainian running club in New York, – I notice that donations are getting smaller and harder to raise money to help people in Ukraine. Therefore, any activity now is important.
“They should have been treated yesterday”
With the help of their marathons, the guys collect money specifically for the psychological rehabilitation of the military. They say that in wartime they pay less attention to this – they say, to restore the fighters physically is much more important. And the fighters themselves are often embarrassed to seek psychological help.
“The military does not talk much about it, but it is very important, because it is the future of our society. The guys are all psychologically beaten, the situation at the front is very terrible. To be honest, they should have been treated yesterday. Now we just want to point out that this is a necessity at the moment.”, says Vadim.
After the race, Vadim and Maxim give their new acquaintances iconic souvenirs – pieces of a Russian helicopter that Ukrainian soldiers shot down in Gostomel on the first day of the war. Volunteers made key rings out of them.
After that – coffee on the track, and – the plane home. Thanks to the American marathons, Maxim and Vadim managed to raise about ten thousand dollars. This money is already waiting in Ukrainian clinics, and there are even specific fighters who must undergo rehabilitation with the funds raised. And the global dream of volunteers is to build a mobile center for psychological assistance to the military, which could move from place to place and work throughout the frontline zone. If you would like to join the collection, you can do so here.
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