Bike ride, silent auction of sunflower painting by Niagara artist to help raise money for Ukraine

John De Vrie, Ron Clavier, Father Victor Nazartchyk and Christyna Prokipchuk are all part of a group working to raise funds for Ukraine.  The sunflower painting done by Clavier will be one of the items in a silent auction to help raise funds.

Former neurologist-turned-artist Ron Clavier often uses the funds raised from his paintings to give back to those who don’t have enough. Now another of his pieces will be auctioned off as part of an effort to raise money for Ukrainian relief programs.

The sunflower painting will be part of a silent auction beginning July 23, paired with a same-day fundraising bike ride from St. Mary’s Ukrainian Church in Niagara Falls.

Proceeds from both events will go to Help Us Help, a Canadian organization focused on humanitarian and educational projects in Ukraine. The group has helped provide support on the ground by providing medical supplies, helping to relocate people to high-risk areas and responding to requests from orphanages to help care for vulnerable children.

Clavier’s inspiration for the painting came from the Ukrainian people. He said he had hoped to show their tenacity and strength in his own way through the sunflowers he painted. The flowers are designed to look like they are under the light of a morning sky, representing a new day.

“I wanted them to soar skyward as a sign of defiance. As a sign of endless existence, of renewal,” Clavier explained. “So I just wanted it to be a tribute to courage, to strength and legitimacy of Ukraine.”

He said he hopes his donated painting can fetch around $5,000 at auction, which is comparable to the amounts he has sold similar-sized paintings for. He added that while the goal was $5,000, if more could be raised, that would also be ideal.

“Do you think if you have enough to take some of the supplement you have, so that the people of Ukraine can get the most out of this gesture,” he added.

The July 23 bike ride will consist of two parts, a short 19km ride in the Niagara Falls area and a larger 120km ride from Niagara Falls, via Welland, and with a turning point at halfway to Ukrainian-owned Rosewood Estates Winery before returning to Ukrainian St. Mary’s Church.

The online silent auction will also be launched on the day, with people able to visit St. Mary’s Ukrainian Church to view items up for sale, including Clavier’s sunflower painting, several bicycles and items donated by local businesses.

Christyna Prokipchuk, one of the organizers of the event, said the idea behind the event helps raise much-needed funds and reminds people that the situation in Ukraine is still relevant.

“We have to be careful, and Ukraine still needs our help. The need is permanent. And it’s still great in Ukraine and it’s growing here. The Niagara region has over 100 families who have arrived from Ukraine,” she explained.

Prokipchuk says the community has raised over $30,000 in previous fundraisers she’s done for Ukraine, and she hopes the generosity will continue throughout this one.

“Our goal is to raise $30,000. We have already come more than 50% of the way and we still have more than a month,” she added.

Anyone looking for more information on the events can visit the Steppe Up for Ukraine Facebook page, or justgiving.com/team/STEPPEUPforUkraine to sign up for the bike ride.

About Catharine C. Bean

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