In the war zone, Alaska Lions Club daring snowmachine driver now evacuates Ukrainian civilians to Poland

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Over the past year, members of the Alaska Sno-x Lions Club have been actively involved in providing crucial aid to Ukrainians who are facing danger and displacement due to the ongoing war. Recently, a news camera captured a remarkable sight in Chasiv Yar, near the city of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast — an aide volunteer wearing an Alaska Sno-x Lions Club arm patch. The Alaskan featured in the video was working to convince residents to move to safety, as can be seen in a German public broadcasting news report available on the YouTube link provided below.

Last April, the Alaska State Sno-x Lions Club began planning a humanitarian mission to Ukraine, aimed at providing essential assistance and transportation to the Polish border. This initiative involved moving families from the jurisdiction of the Lions Club Ukraine to the Lions Club Poland, in collaboration with the Aerial Recovery Group’s efforts to transport other evacuees to Poland. The team successfully executed their plan, providing vital aid to those in need.

Moreover, the Alaska Lions Club members played a critical role in coordinating the shipment of donated items from Alaska to both the Lions Club of Poland and the Lions Club of Ukraine, further bolstering the humanitarian efforts in the region.

Several Alaskans associated with the Alaska Sno-x Lions Club are involved in the humanitarian effort, including Dane Ferguson, Jamie Hamilton and Brody Smith, along with others from outside Alaska who are in Lions Clubs of their own hometowns.

Read more about the humanitarian mission and fundraising link here.

As winter ends and the “fighting season” begins, Russia has taken over the rotating presidency of the United Nation’s Security Council, Ukraine, naturally, is furious about the move. After all, the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued an arrest warrant against Russia President Vladimir Putin last month. But the United Nations seems helpless in the face of Russia taking over the Security Council. The town of Avdiivka is suffering some of the worse of the shelling in recent days, close to where the Alaskans have been working to get people to safety.

Dane Ferguson, a snowmachine legend from Alaska who has been in the thick of it in Ukraine for the past year with the Sno-x Lions Club, wrote on Facebook an account of a day in his life of evacuating civilians:

I’d like to start by saying that I strongly dislike social media. Although I recognize it is a necessary evil if I want to bring awareness to the humanitarian side of this conflict in Ukraine.

View the rest of Dane Ferguson’s video of evacuating a “babushka” at this Facebook link.

I’ve been here in Ukraine for about a year now. The few posts that have been made, were all the sugarcoated stories. not today. As I was standing around doing vehicle security, and I was thinking to myself how exactly do I describe this “new normal” to the friends back home. So I pulled out my camera and filmed an average day in the life of the Alaska Lions Club in Ukraine. Using freestyle as an analogy. This day is just a normal backflip. Nothing special. It’s not a highlight reel. It’s just what we do. Although I am really excited to come home and spend time with my family, catch up with my friends and get back to work to earn some money. I am equally disappointed to temporarily be unable to give these folks the option to live, and a chance at a new life.

Having said that. I hope no negative backlash comes from posting this video. It seems a lot of other volunteers and soldiers post their daily actions so…. hey lets give it a try. Here you go.

Allow me to put this video into context. We make two runs into towns like this every day to get elderly, children, and wounded people. On this day, we got a request to evacuate three people from the basement. Once we arrived, the male refused to go and The females changed their minds and were deciding to stay with the man.

As we’re driving into Town and crossing the only bridge that allows a safe access back out of town, grass is on fire on both sides of the road from a white phosphorus munitions being dropped.

My three partners speak Russian and Ukrainian. So I generally stay outside keep an eye on the vehicles, and our surroundings to make sure no unwanted surprises sneak up on us. While two members of our Team were inside trying to convince the family to leave. The big building that is burning was constantly hit with artillery. While I was outside enjoying the sites and smells. The two men you see sitting on the bench. Had come wandering out of the basement of the building to escape the shelling and sat in disbelief as they told us, that was their home being shelled. Of course I had to radio for a translator to come tell me what these guys were saying. She spoke with the men and tried to convince them to evacuate. But they told her that this town is their home, and they don’t know what they would do if they left and they have always lived here. One of the team members got frustrated with a stubborn old people in the basement so he came out of the building. He was a little antsy from the shelling and you can hear him on the radio calling for the fourth member of our team, encouraging her to leave (for safety purposes we try to never stay in one place for too long. Speed is your friend) And it was at that time the grandmother had decided she would leave with us, so we could take her to safety. I did not film the drive out. Because I am the driver, (if I had filmed it. I would never post our routes or critical infrastructure on social media) but we cross back “through”/ by the flames, across the bridge and just like happens every time. The old lady was crying as she left her home and family not knowing if they see each other again. We reassured Lady that we will be back to the basement to check on her family and hopefully reunite them in the future

10 COMMENTS

  1. Why are they called “snow machines” in Alaska? Everyone else calls them “snowmobiles”

    • And the bush they’re called snow goes. It allows you to go on the snow. It doesn’t make snow or a snow cone or anything else. They don’t move snow from one place to another. Sometimes simple is best.

    • Good question, Loren.
      .
      I refuse to refer to a snowmobile by the obtuse and ambiguous phrase “snow machine”. To me, a “snow machine” is only a device that ski resorts use to produce artificial snow on their slopes. It is as stupid as referring to a car as a “road machine”.

        • Oops, sorry Suzanne, I was not directing my comment at your personally!
          Given that so many Alaskans do in fact refer to snowmobiles as “snowmachines”, it did not even occur to me to object to your use of that word in this story.
          .
          With that being said, I can only reiterate that there is a perfectly good word to describe these vehicles, that is in use EVERYWHERE but in Alaska, so I will still aver that “snowmobiles” should be the word used for them here, as well.

      • Sorry mate,
        When I was a kid in Barrow in the mid sixties, there were still dogsleds in utility use, and the machines were taking over. they were called snow machines then there.
        We might be stupid but most common term was skidoo, then snowmachine, sled, and snogo.
        There were a lot of Skidoo Olympics, but plenty of Polaris Mustangs, and a mix of everything else. I had a Johnson Skihorse.

  2. Hmmm…. that would be one helluva snowmachine trek from the active fighting in Eastern Ukraine to the Polish border in Western Ukraine, but good on them!

  3. Russia is a state sponsor of terror. The twisted Putin regime has launched missiles into cities where they have killed men, woman and children.

    The criminal- mafia like regime of Putin has enriched Putin to the tune of over $200 billion dollars- money stolen from the Russian people. In time we look forward to having Putin in court, much like we did with Hitler’s key people at Nuremburg. (A nice trial, then a hanging.)

    In the short run it would be lovely to give Ukraine A-10s so they could swiftly increase the number of Russian dead- which may now be over 200,000.

  4. M – Credible, independent Western military analysts estimate that Ukraine has lost up to 230,000 dead & many more wounded, while Russia has lost an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 dead. CNN is not a credible news source! Just heard today that the European Union, NATO and Ukraine are demanding that Facebook censor independent information concerning the Ukraine war!. That should tell you something.

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