MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — A Montgomery County businessman has just returned from Ukraine. He recently learned he had family in the war-torn country and stepped in to help.
“I said to my wife, ‘What cousins?’ I never had any idea I had relatives in Ukraine,” Gary Wasserson said.READ MORE: 2 Police Officers Shot During Fourth Of July Festivities On Ben Franklin Parkway: Police
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Wasserson first learned he had seven cousins living in Lviv.
He says that’s also when he realized that sending money to Ukraine would not be enough.
“I looked at my wife and I said, ‘Ellen, money’s going to do us no good. These people are going to die. We need to get them out of Ukraine,’” Wasserson said.
Wasserson got on a plane to Poland, where he immediately got to work arranging a tactical team to cross the border into Ukraine.
With Wasserson’s financial support, the team was able to get five of his seven relatives to safety, while the other two chose to stay behind and fight.READ MORE: With Hints Of Yellow In Sea Of Red, White And Blue, Montgomery County Town Honors Ukrainian Refugees
“I’m not a hero, I’m not,” Wasserson said. “The heroes are on the ground there. Those are the people that are giving their lives.”
Not a hero, yet Wasserson couldn’t walk away from the crisis.
Instead, he expanded his efforts overseas and created what he calls a “Network of Angels,” a group of professionals and volunteers across eastern Europe who are making it their mission to safely evacuate every remaining refugee.
“These are lives that need to be saved and nothing else matters,” Wasserson said. “It’s a singular goal and that’s just how I was brought up.”
But he will need help, which is why Wasserson is calling on every American to donate what they can to promote peace in Ukraine.
“What happens if it’s your family? Your wife? Your children? You would hope there’d be somebody there to take care of them if you weren’t in a position to do so yourself and that’s all I could think about,” Wasserson said.MORE NEWS: 2 People In Custody After Apparent Road Rage Shooting In Old City, Police Say
Wasserson said he’s donated more than $100,000 of his own money for the cause, and he’s helped raise more than $250,000 in total.