Wilton man returns from Ukraine, but efforts to help continue: ‘We can’t forget’

Photo of J.D. Freda

WILTON — Sean Lentner has returned to the U.S. after spending a week in Romania helping Ukranian refugees escape and settle into new lives, but his heart is still with the people of Ukraine.

The Wilton man and entrepreneur celebrated his wedding anniversary just days after returning to the country, but the plight of the refugees, many he became friendly with, never left his mind.

“I spent a lot of time with these families,” Lentner said, recalling the pizza parties he helped throw, the toys he helped buy for children who didn’t have any and the joy he saw come across their faces. “I’ve been doing a lot of funding since I got back through the Fundly that we started.”

As of Tuesday, Lentner’s Fundly sits at $30,390 raised from 123 different donors. He said that roughly $10,000 of that total has been used by the non-governmental organization on the ground that Lentner works with, for supplies and organizing.

The goal, per Lentner, is to gain more public support and to not lose sight of the importance of these people’s lives.

He said he was warmed by receiving a new $2,000 cash pledge on a whim after speaking at a recent Ukranian rally in Southport, and is keenly focused on what the funds can actually do for the people on the ground in Ukraine.

“I’m in contact with the president of the NGO I was working with every morning at 6:30 a.m. talking about things she needs,” Lentner said of his conversations with Ioana Urzica, the non-governmental organization president. “She’ll bounce ideas off of me and I always want to check in with the refugee families I was helping and hear about the new refugee families that are coming in.”

Lentner has been communicating with refugees too.

“I keep in touch with a gentleman in Kiev. I was trying to help him get his mother to him or possibly to the Romanian border,” he said. “Once a week, I reach out to him just to see how he’s doing, and more importantly, to see how his mother is doing because she is by herself in her house.”

Lentner said non-governmental organization is busy working with local food banks to provide food for the refugee families it cares for. He’s requested the total costs are so he can donate the difference and fully fund their remaining food orders.

And the word of Lentner’s charity may just be getting around to more than those willing to donate via his Fundly link.

Local mixed martial arts trainer Flow Trandu, of Romanian background, contacted Lentner recently asking if he could repost his Fundly link and donate all the funds he raises himself straight to Lentner’s page. Lentner graciously accepted and the two brainstormed yet another idea.

Trandu will host an outdoor fitness boot camp on April 10 in Stamford’s Scalzo Park.

“He and all these other personal trainers in Fairfield County are getting together with their clients and friends and do a huge boot camp in Stamford,” Lentner said, adding that he will be at the event to speak to the attendees.

He said he appreciates the support he is receiving from the public and reiterated that his steadfast message has not, and will not change.

“We can’t forget about how important freedom is and about how this war is happening and about all of these refugees,” he said. “ We cannot forget about all the support that we need to continue to provide to the Ukraine.”