When Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Christyna Prokipchuck started planning her Steppe Up for Ukraine fundraiser, she wanted to keep the drum beating to ensure people don’t become complacent about the war in Ukraine.
She accomplished a lot more than that.
Prokipchuk’s cycling fundraiser was a huge success this past weekend. It brought in more than $90,000 for Ukraine relief, $60,000 more than Prokipchuk’s original target.
“It’s validating because not everyone is paying attention,” she said at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Niagara Falls on July 23.
Its success is a direct example of how one person can make a difference, she said.
“Sometimes we doubt if our actions are making an impact, right? We don’t know if what we’re doing today is going to make an impact,” she said.
“But I can tell you that it is.”
Dozens of people participated, riding either 19 or 120 kilometres.
NOTLer Steve Deboer was one of the first cyclists to return from the longer route around Niagara.
“I heard about the event through good word of mouth, good advertising at the St. Catharines Cycling Club. It was the perfect local ride with friends for a good cause,” he said.
Despite Saturday’s blisteringly heat, Deboer said the water stations set up along the route kept him cool.
NOTL was well-represented as Old Town resident Larry Duncan was one of the organizers.
“What we’re seeing from this organized ride is that the Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Fonthill, riders from Niagara Falls and beyond have come together and donated and reached out to their own communities for an extremely good cause,” he said.
“And that’s really reassuring in the type of political climate we seem to live in. Coming together as opposed to breaking apart. So, I really find this reassuring.”
More than 450 people from around the world donated to the event. One team member, Bert Mucci, raised more than $30,000 himself, blowing way past his $10,000 goal.
Prokipchuk said people she knows in Ukraine have been sharing the event.
“One lady here is from Ukraine, her town is being bombed constantly, she’s been in touch with her friends and family back home. Her father is there, her best friends are there and they’ve all been talking about and sharing this event.”
Prokipchuk said nearly 40 people volunteered to help run the event.
After the ride, a $25 meal of homemade Ukrainian food was available. Riders and supporters dined well on cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, sausages, perogies, borscht and bread.
The food was cooked by the wife of St. Mary’s pastor. She also sells Ukrainian food from the church daily.
Interested individuals can call the church and order authentic Ukrainian perogies or cabbage rolls at 905-354-7876.
The event has not officially ended yet. In light of raising three times more than originally anticipated, Prokipchuk has increased her fundraising goal to $100,000.
Donations can be made at justgiving.com/team/STEPPEUPforUkraine.
An online silent auction is running until Aug. 24, which is also Ukrainian Independence Day. The auction can be found at 32auctions.com/organizations/98616/auctions/125794?r=1&t=all.
All the money raised will be going to Help Us Help, a registered charity dedicated to relief efforts in Ukraine.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report