Bay Area wineries hosting fundraiser to help injured Ukrainians get prosthetic limbs

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Bay Area wineries hosting fundraiser to help injured Ukrainians
Bay Area wineries are partnering up with Protez Foundation to raise funds to buy prosthetics for injured Ukrainians.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians suffer the consequences of war, two Bay Area wineries are doing their part to help those in need. On Saturday, Treasure Island Wines and Umbriaso Wines are partnering with a Minnesota-based company to raise funds to buy prosthetics for injured Ukrainians.

Eugene Sitenko never thought he would be here.

Thousands of miles away from his native Ukraine, at a winery on San Francisco's Treasure Island.

But Eugene's journey to get here hasn't been easy.

For the past nine years, he's been fighting Russian aggression.

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Ukrainian soldier Vladyslav Orlov is hoping to walk again with help of a U.S. hospital after being told his legs could be amputated.

First against the invasion of Crimea, and then with the full-scale war that started in Ukraine last year.

With the help of a translator, we talked about his experiences.

"I stepped on a mine when we were clearing buildings," he said.

A moment that would cost Eugene his right leg back in 2014.

But still, he continued to fight on the front lines for years.

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"My desire to win the war and my desire for my future children to live in a free country took over, so I was able to continue my fight," Eugene said.

For nearly a decade, Eugene assumed he would never be able to get his leg back.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when a friend introduced him to the Protez Foundation - a Minnesota-based group that helps injured Ukrainian soldiers and civilians get prosthetic limbs.

"We focus on getting prosthetics to people, getting them on their feet faster because if people stay in bed for a long time, they become depressed," said Mykola Sarazhynskyy, of the Protez Foundation.

Since their founding last year, the Protez Foundation has helped around 70 people.

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A retired San Francisco nurse has returned home after nearly nine months volunteering on the frontlines in Ukraine.

First by transferring them to the U.S. for medical attention, and then by taking them on trips around the country to help them recover from the traumas of war.

On one of those trips to the Bay Area back in January, the group stumbled upon Treasure Island Wines.

The Ukrainian flag flying out front caught their attention.

"They said, hey this is great. And they knew they were going to be supported here," said Jim Mirowski.

Mirowski owns the winery.

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He and another friend were so moved by the stories they heard that day, they decided to hold a fundraiser this Saturday to support the group.

"They're not just fighting for their country. They really are fighting for the future of Europe and democracy," Mirowski said.

The move has touched Eugene as well as others with the Protez Foundation.

And while they say they money raised will immediately go towards a good cause, the gratitude they feel will last forever.

"I want to thank them for letting me feel like home here. I can feel the warmth of their hearts," said Eugene.

To make a donation to Protez Foundation, visit here.

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