BETHEL — “I’m going to always be going back to Ukraine. I’ve fallen in love with the people. I’ve fallen in love with the country. I could go on forever about how amazing the Ukrainians are. They are so strong and resilient. They are calm and chilled out and very determined. And they are so pissed,” said George Fox, of Bethel.
While skiing at Sunday River last February, Fox crashed. He is retired and had been skiing nearly every weekday since 2017. “I lived for skiing…I cracked my L3 and L4 vertebrae… No surgery was required. But you’ve got to rest.”
After the accident he bought a ticket to Warsaw to see his friend, Marta. Then TV footage showing the Russians attacking the Ukrainians changed everything. He apologized to his friend, rented a car and drove to the border. “The war had just started…Next thing I knew I was dragging (Ukrainian) families into Poland.”
Fox went to Ukraine three times in 2022 for roughly eight weeks each time. In April, the Sun Journal wrote about Fox’s first visit in March, 2022. He’s been for two more eight week spans – July until mid-September and mid-October through mid-December.
While there, he transports people west out of Ukraine and also transports supplies east. On his last trip he delivered food and water to people in the far reaches of the Donbas, a dangerous war torn area occupied partly by Russian separatists. He said supplies pour in from all over the world. To communicate, he uses, Signal, an encrypted messaging app that is considered more secure than other social media sites.
On his first day in Ukraine in March he helped bring food into Lviv. That day the city took a missile strike. “I didn’t have a shred of fear. A military guy, a friend, said, ‘you know dude, you need to be afraid, because when you’re afraid it saves your life’.”
Despite the military strike, he eventually moved to Lviv, staying with friends and continuing to help with transportation.
One day Fox serendipitously found himself at a dolphin aquarium where he saw dolphins placing their heads on children. “There are a lot of hurting children from Ukraine that are war-torn, they are shattered… Turns out dolphins emit ultrasounds from their blow holes and that has a therapeutic effect…ultrasounds help restore neurologic pathways in shattered children’s brains to help them come back and start talking again.” It was something he won’t forget.
For Fox, the work he has accomplished is equal in importance to the friends he has made. Both motivate him to keep returning to Ukraine. “We (care workers) all just converged on the scene from all walks of life. Just jumped in. We are a really tight knit group… There’s so much damage. I want to be involved in helping rebuild the country.”
“It’s one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened in my life,” he said.
Fox will be speaking at Gould Academy in Ordway Living Room on the second floor of the Dinning Hall on Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. The public is invited.