Ukraine war: New York Jets owners on donating $1m to help humanitarian efforts

The New York Jets play the Cincinnati Bengals
The New York Jets displayed the flag of Ukraine on their helmets and at the end points during Sunday’s game

As they watched the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine unfold, Suzanne Johnson and her family felt they had “no choice but to act.

Suzanne’s father Stefan moved to the United States after World War II as a 21-year-old refugee from Ukraine; Her mother is a first generation immigrant.

They raised Suzanne in the ‘Little Ukraine’ part of Manhattan, and their daughter is now married to Woody Johnson, owner of the NFL franchise New York Jets.

Not only the Jets has also pledged to donate $1 million (£893,000) to help those affected by the virus. Russia invaded Ukraine, Johnson’s family made a humanitarian trip to neighboring Poland in July.

Suzanne, her husband and their two teenage sons visited the Dom Wczasowy orphanage and the Bursa Miedzyszkolna university dormitory, which is serving as a refugee center.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Suzanne told BBC Sport. “The refugee center is home to women and children of nearby families nuclear power plant.

“They were educated people with full lives and had to go on the run, with 30 minutes’ notice to throw whatever they could into the sack.

“These women cried with me. They were so proud and hated that they were put in a position where they had to rely on people.

“I can’t even imagine someone telling me right now you have 30 minutes to run away from the United States. It’s really heartbreaking.”

‘It’s our duty’ to help Ukraine

Wood Johnson with wife Suzanne and sons Brick and Jack in 2017
Suzanne Johnson pictured with her husband Woody and their two sons, Brick and Jack, in 2017

Suzanne’s father came to New York with $5, a bag of clothes, and didn’t know a word of English, but was given the chance to make a living on his own.

With the help of the Ukrainian church, he became a successful builder, married and business developer building family homes.

Suzanne had forged a successful career as a stock manager before meeting her husband, who was US Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2017-2021.

“My father always told me what life was like growing up in a Communist country, living through the war, and coming to America with almost nothing,” she said.

“I’m in a privileged position now so I think if I can be instrumental in lending any help, both financial and material, it’s my duty for people did it for my father.

“He passed away three years ago and it will hurt his stomach to see his country invaded. My duty as his daughter, and my son’s duty to him. as his grandson, is to support.

“We have no choice. We have to do it.”

‘See it with your own eyes, you want to make an instant difference’

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and the humanitarian crisis will continue when hostilities stop. About 7.5 million refugees have left Ukraine,External Links with nearly 1.4 million people coming to Poland.

The Johnsons have been donating their $1 million over 10 months, with $100,000 being donated each month to another organization that can get the money to where they need it most, ASAP.

Among the organizations they have helped is United24.

While watching Wimbledon, Suzanne’s eldest son Brick, 16, watched world number one Iga Swiatek announce a charity tennis event to be held in his native Poland as the Johnsons will be there.

The event, in Krakow, was attended by Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who is an ambassador for United24.

Brick chose that organization to donate in July. He and his brother Jack, 13, presented the check, with the money going to children’s hospitals in Ukraine.

“I talk to kids my age about how different life is in an orphanage, the pain they go through when they cross the border and are separated from their families,” says Brick. “.

“It doesn’t really matter where you live, all the kids have a lot in common. I’ve talked to a lot of them about sports and playing football with them.

“When you see what’s going on with your own eyes, you want to make an immediate difference, even if it’s just the smiles on the kids’ faces.”

Jets use Bengals game to ‘make sure messages aren’t forgotten’

Nerk York Jets endzone with Ukrainian and American flags
As well as displaying the flags of Ukraine, the jets played a video message on a large screen on Sunday

The Johnsons have also used their platform to spread the word around the world during the NFL season.

At the Jets’ home game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, they arranged for the Ukrainian flag to be displayed in each end zone and on the players’ helmets.

They showed a video to a crowd of 73,708 at MetLife Stadium to remind fans of the ongoing crisis, and to raise awareness of the family’s efforts to help those affected.

Gameday lottery proceeds – and the Jets’ August donation – went to CityServe, to support a housing project in Krakow.

“I want this message not to be forgotten, and maybe it will serve as a stepping stone for other teams to proactively deal with the Ukraine crisis,” said Brick, who took his nickname from the former Jets player. , D’Brickashaw Ferguson, added.

After the conflict is over, the Johnsons plan to visit Ukraine, especially to meet more children orphaned by the war.

“Being able to connect with them, make a little difference to their lives, warms my heart,” says Brick.

“There are many signs of hope. You want to see them recover, get up and start over with their lives.”

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