Des Plaines concert Friday night benefits Ukrainian soldiers

A local community came together for a benefit concert Friday night to help Ukrainians in the war effort.

The musicians who took center stage at Illusion Café in Des Plaines are from Ukraine and have been in the U.S. touring since the New Year.

They were planning to head back to Ukraine at the end of February, but because of the Russian invasion, they haven't been able to return home.

Now, they are doing their part from the States.

"From the bottom of my heart, I cannot stay away of this war, I cannot sit at home and watch it from the side," said Mariana Balash, a volunteer with Revived Soldiers Ukraine. "It means a lot for me."

The charitable event was organized by Revived Soldiers Ukraine. The nonprofit assists military members and their families, in addition to providing medical rehabilitation to injured soldiers.

"We have heavy losses in the military as well as we lost a lot of civilians, we’re talking about women and children who could not evacuate on time," said Iryna Vashchuk Discipio, president of Revived Soldiers Ukraine.


Discipio said one of their rehabilitation facilities in Ukraine was destroyed in the war. Still, their work continues.

Money raised Friday will be used to care for wounded soldiers and civilians.

"We’re purchasing ambulances, some of our ambulances are evacuating people from dangerous territories," said Discipio.

The effort is also one that hits close to home for the owner of Illusion Café, who is of Polish descent.

"Back in Poland, we’re allowing so many people to cross, it was one of those things where we decided why don’t we do something here," said Christopher Wozniczka, owner, Illusion Café.

Mariana Balash, who organized Friday’s fundraiser, hopes that the music will help make a difference.

"Very often I’m crying because we are here safe. We are in a country without war. But our families, our friends, our roots are from Ukraine," said Balash.

To learn more about Revived Soldiers Ukraine, or to donate to their cause, visit their website.