ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - An Escondido business owner has arrived near the Ukrainian border with supplies for the war effort, with an eye toward a possible rescue effort for his daughter.
Olex Shumishyn, a College Area resident, flew into Bucharest, Romania, on Thursday. From there, he took a bus to the capital of Moldova, which is west of the Ukrainian border.
“People tried to talk me out of doing it. Zero percent chance of doing that,” said Shumishyn.
Shumishyn, who owns an HVAC company in Escondido, grew up as a child in Ukraine and has family in southwest Ukraine, in Odessa, including his 9-year-old daughter. She lives with his ex-wife and came down with chickenpox about five days ago.
“Since fighting hasn't started yet in my city, the decision is for her to stay there,” said Shumishyn.
If the fighting and shelling moves into Odessa, Shumishyn, an American citizen who is allowed to cross, is prepared to go into Ukraine.
“I’m arranging for them to have escorts, who may not be available. If my ex-wife and daughter can’t do it safely themselves, I will go in and try escort them myself … It’s my daughter. There is no other way,” said Shumishyn.
Shumishyn isn't just there for a possible rescue mission. Back in the San Diego area, he and several other Ukrainians purchased two hundred plate carriers, the fabric part of a bulletproof vest, along with 75 field medical kits, to donate to the war effort.
He says the extra luggage was supposed to cost $2,600 in baggage fees, before British Airways staff learned where it was headed.
“She came out and said, ‘We will waive the fee completely.’ Unbelievable,” said Shumishyn.
Shumishyn also started a Gofundme campaign to help refugees and those in Ukraine with medications in short supply, like insulin.
“The logistics of shipping cost a lot. I can just buy it here in Moldova, get in to the border within a few hours. I can do it over and over and over,” said Shumishyn.
Shumishyn says his other family members are staying put for now, but his mother-in-law, who has been in a car, in line for 20 hours, is hoping to cross into Moldova Friday night.