The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ pro is helping to set up housing for refugees and coordinating supplies in a new project named after his childhood home in Ukraine.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy opened up about why he is back in Europe after fleeing the continent when Russia began its invasion of his homeland Ukraine. The Dancing with the Stars pro, 42, revealed to Good Morning America on Wednesday (March 23) that he is now stationed in Poland to assist refugees of the horrific war after being overcome with guilt for escaping and not staying to help. “I feel guilty. I feel bad. I feel shame. I feel upset,” Maksim explained on the morning show.
The dancer said he was compelled to return after he was reunited with his wife Peta Murgatroyd, 35, and 5-year-old son, Shai Aleksander in the United States. “When I finally came back home and finally saw Peta and we had that emotional moment, that’s when I realized I’ve got to go back,” he said. “I want opportunities to prove to my son, me as a man, I want him to be proud of me and maybe this is the opportunity to show exactly how to do it.”
He added, “I’m super grateful. It’s things like this that change me as a person. I feel like this is my duty. I’m here to remind people that this is just getting worse.”
Maksim is now helping to set up housing for Ukraine refugees in Poland in a project he’s calling Baranova 27, named after his childhood home in Odessa. He and his family have also teamed up with Bethenny Frankel’s BStrong and the Global Empowerment Mission to get supplies to those still suffering in Ukraine. Meanwhile, his brother — DWTS pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy — and their father, Aleksandr Chmerkovskiy, are in New Jersey helping out by raising nearly $120,000 to send more than 135,000 pounds of goods to Ukraine.
When Maksim first returned to the United States, he found himself being slammed for being able to leave Europe because he was a television star, even after he was arrested in Poland. At the time, he told GMA, “I cried on the way from the airport. I felt embarrassed. I felt embarrassed the entire ride back because I was the only man on the train amongst all women and children.”