(FOX 9) - To date, the war in Ukraine has claimed tens of thousands of lives and left many more with devastating injuries.
It’s believed an estimated 2,000 soldiers and civilians have lost limbs due to the constant rocket fire, prompting the need for prosthetic care to soar.
In May 2022, Ukrainian-born local prosthetist Yakov Gradinar decided he could do something to help. The Sherburne County resident started the Protez Foundation with only a few thousand dollars and a heart for helping.
Six months later, the foundation has grown exponentially. They have now fit 22 Ukrainians with prosthetics and are currently hosting their fifth group of clients.
"When we started all this, we didn’t know how it was going to be funded and how it was going to go," said Gradinar. "I’m shocked at how much the American community has stepped up."
Recently, they’ve been gifted a rent-free clinic in Oakdale, a renovated home for the patients to stay in while they’re here, and a van to get to and from.
"It's very emotional for me," said Gradinar. "We won’t be able to help all of them, but at least we will double what we did last year."
Between the expense of the prosthetic devices, the cost of travel to and from Ukraine, and the cost of housing for the three weeks the patients are here, Protez Foundation is continually in need of financial support.
Roman Matvisiv is an officer in the Ukrainian Army and says he wouldn’t be able to get the same kind of care back home, as Ukraine rapidly tries to advance its prosthetic care infrastructure, the United States remains a global leader.
"I don’t have enough words to thank for everything it's done for me," said Matvisiv.
To donate to the Protez Foundation on this Give to the Max Day, click here.