George Fox of Bethel, left, and other aid workers in Ukraine in 2022, where he has volunteered to deliver supplies inside the war-torn nation and transport Ukrainians out of the country in Eastern Europe. Submitted photo

BETHEL — After three visits to Ukraine in 2022, George Fox says he has nothing but love for the war-torn country.

The Bethel man first found himself volunteering to help deliver supplies to Ukrainian refugees flowing out of the country after Russia invaded last February.

Fox went to Ukraine three times in 2022, each time for about eight weeks. The Sun Journal reported in April on Fox’s first visit in March 2022. He was also in the Eastern European country from mid-July to mid-September and mid-October to mid-December.

“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,” he said. “They are so strong and resilient. They are calm and chilled out and very determined. And they are so pissed.”

Fox is scheduled to speak about his experiences in Ukraine at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Gould Academy at 39 Church St. in Bethel. His appearance at the private college preparatory school is set for the Ordway Living Room on the second floor of the dining hall. The public is invited.

Fox said he found himself with time to travel after a mishap early last year. While skiing at Sunday River in February, Fox hurt his back in a fall. He is retired and had been skiing nearly every weekday since 2017.

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“I lived for skiing,” he said. “I cracked my L3 and L4 vertebrae. No surgery was required, but you’ve got to rest.”

After the accident, Fox 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,” he said. “Next thing I knew, I was dragging (Ukrainian) families into Poland.”

During his time in Ukraine, Fox has transported people west out of Ukraine and sent supplies east. On his last trip, Fox delivered food and water to people in the far reaches of Donbas, a dangerous war-ravaged area occupied partly by Russian separatists. Fox said supplies pour in from all over the world.

To communicate, Fox uses Signal, an encrypted instant messaging app that is considered more secure than other social media sites.

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On his first day in Ukraine in March, Fox helped bring food into Lviv on the same day the city took a missile strike.

“I didn’t have a shred of fear,” he said. “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, Fox eventually moved to Lviv, staying with friends and continuing to help with transportation.

“There’s so much damage,” he said. “I want to be involved in helping rebuild the country.”

George Fox of Bethel stands next to an aid van in Ukraine in 2022, where he has volunteered to help people while the war with Russia continues. Fox has gone to Ukraine three times to deliver food and supplies and take Ukrainians to safety. Submitted photo

One day, Fox serendipitously found himself at a dolphin aquarium, where he saw dolphins placing their heads on children. He said it ended up being a moment he will never forget.

“There are a lot of hurting children from Ukraine that are war-torn. They are shattered,” Fox said. “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.”

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For Fox, the work he has accomplished is equal in importance to the friends he has made.

“We all just converged on the scene from all walks of life. Just jumped in,” he said. “We are a really tight-knit group. It’s one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened in my life.”

The work and those friends, he said, motivate him to keep returning.

Said Fox, “I’m going to always be going back to Ukraine.”

 


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