Indiana Stands With Ukraine: A Very Special Celebrity Fundraiser To Be Held For Ukrainian Refugees

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July 2022

On Feb. 24, 2022, the world once again came to a standstill and watched in gaping horror as the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in a barbaric and unprovoked escalation of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. The world continues to watch as the Russian military intensifies its campaign in an attempt to annihilate the country of Ukraine — creating the largest armed conflict in Europe since WWII as well as an ongoing refugee crisis.

For me, personally, it is an all too familiar and tragic storyline that tells the tale of my own German family members who were murdered under the direct order of a vile dictator. Having struck a deep nerve, I had a fateful conversation with Franc D’Ambrosio a few months back while he was visiting in Indiana.

D’Ambrosio is known best for his long-running role as the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera and for his emotional portrayal of the opera-singing Anthony Corleone, son of Al Pacino and Diane Keaton’s characters in the Academy Award-nominated film “The Godfather III.” He performs throughout the nation and at international concerts and will be returning to Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael this August after an unforgettable three nights in August of 2021.

I was aware that D’Ambrosio was sharing his talents and was working with Polish Dominican Friars — with whom he has a personal connection — to raise awareness and funds to provide humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian refugees crossing the Poland-Ukraine border that the friars are caring for — firsthand. The Dominican Friars have a 501(c)(3) set up, and all of the monetary donations are going right into the hands of these friars, who are literally on the front lines offering food, shelter, medical and mental health care to Ukrainian refugees and their children.

A Call to Action

D’Ambrosio and Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano have held many intimate fundraising events for the Dominican Friars at personal and other private residences in California and Pennsylvania.

With this knowledge, I recruited my publishers, Neil and Lena Lucas, and a handful of locals to assist D’Ambrosio with his fundraising efforts. For those who don’t know, Lena [Lucas] is Ukrainian, and she has been experiencing the devastation and carnage through her family members who were living in Kyiv, Ukraine, when the war broke out. Thankfully, Lena’s family has been spared physical casualties, but the psychological impact and material losses are incomprehensible for those who have never experienced war and displacement.

And so, with the power of networking within the extraordinary philanthropic community that resides in central Indiana, the publishers of Carmel Monthly [the Lucases] and I are honored to be working with an outstanding planning committee comprised of Amy and Ryan Wright of Indianapolis, Neal Burnett and Karen Brabender of Indianapolis, Jeanne Martin of northern Indiana, Senior Director of Advancement at Dominican Friars [Western Province] Bryan Fegley, Franc D’Ambrosio and Brian Boitano. Together, we are coordinating an evening of entertainment, dialogue and fundraising for the Dominican Friars’ 501(c)(3). And 100% of the proceeds from tickets, as well as additional revenue brought in from an impressive live auction, will go to the friars and immediately to the aid of the Ukrainian refugees the Polish Dominican Friars are assisting. This remarkable invitation-only event will take place at the private residence of Amy and Ryan Wright on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

The evening will feature small plates — donated by Ryan and Amy Wright and prepared by Amy, and Lena’s mother Valentyna Osinnia who was a chef in Kyiv catering to President Clinton when he visited Ukraine — sampling some of Ukraine’s most popular and delectable foods, as well as a national and local celebrity entertainment lineup — plus a special video message and performance from another celebrity artist who has recently graced the stage at Feinstein’s Hotel Carmichael.

A Noble and Obtainable Goal

The planning committee is proud to announce the incomparable Franc D’Ambrosio as the evening’s headliner and a special performance by Don Farrell and Terry Woods, and Indiana Ballet Conservatory featuring Ukrainian ballet! Attendees will also hear from representatives of the Dominican Friars, Western Province, who will provide updates on the aid that is being administered as a result of the generosity of people from around the globe.

The goal of the evening’s fundraiser is to capitalize on bringing in some of our nation’s and state’s greatest talents to not only entertain us but to raise awareness of the war that the Russians are relentlessly waging against the Ukrainians and to contribute to D’Ambrosio’s goal of raising $1 million by the end of 2022. With the previous fundraising events combined, D’Ambrosio and Boitano have raised more than $500,000.

“At the moment the war started, I called them [Dominican Friars] right away and asked them, ‘What can I do?’” D’Ambrosio shared. “They said, ‘We need to get money into the hands of our fellow brothers, and 100% will go towards the health care, medical needs and psychological needs of the refugees and their children.’ The Polish Dominican Priests in this Dominican order roll up their sleeves and work tirelessly — they don’t just speak with their mouths, but they speak with their actions. One of my priest friends told me that he’s turned his parish into a pediatric oncology ward because life still goes on and these children need their cancer treatments.”

Anyone who wishes to donate to the Dominican Friars’ 501(c)(3) does not have to attend the fundraiser in October to play a vital role in the Ukrainian refugee aid efforts. You can simply visit the Dominican Friars website and donate directly to their 501(c)(3).

“The war and refugee crisis are no longer the top news items,” D’Ambrosio stated. “We have to work even harder now in order to raise money for these individuals. The war isn’t ending any time in the near future, and as a matter of fact, Russia is doubling down on their brutality, so these refugees need even more money and aid.”

D’Ambrosio paused and with conviction, said, “It is imperative that we take care of the [Ukrainian] refugees and the children and address the physical and emotional needs. These children are the future of Ukraine — if they are not healthy and strong, there is no future for Ukraine.”

Stay tuned for more details and related information on the upcoming fundraiser hosted by the planning committee and sponsored by Carmel Monthly. You do not have to attend the event in person to participate! You can make a difference today by donating to the Dominican Friars via their website at https://opwest.org/indianadonation.

We would like to thank Franc D’Ambrosio for his time and efforts, and we hope to see many of you there at one of his two performances to be held at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael on Aug. 26 and 27. Tickets for these shows are on sale at feinsteinshc.com.