The war in Ukraine started on the night before J.P. Medved’s birthday.
“I realized early on that I wanted to do something,” the Washington Park resident said.
As a professional, Medved is employed in content marketing in the health and wellness sector. But his hobby — tabletop gaming and war gaming — is what provided him with the avenue to help Ukraine.
Medved has a 3D printer, and on social media, he follows a number of artists from around the world. After the war started, he searched on the Fiverr website — an online marketplace for freelancers — to find a Ukrainian sculptor who could create a model to honor the Ukrainian military.
Through a search by location, he found a few Ukrainian artists and reached out to them, but they were unable to participate — some of the reasons being that they were serving in the Ukrainian military or their home had been destroyed, Medved said.
But 19-year-old Nikita Klimenko was available. Klimenko is an art student attending the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Fine Arts. When Medved reached out, Klimenko had just evacuated his home in Kharkiv and had fled to Lviv.
Medved said that in a social media conversation between them, Klimenko said he wakes up to cruise missiles flying over the roof and has “long ceased to be afraid of shelling.” He added that the reason he left Kharkiv was because there were problems with food and the internet, Medved said.
“It has been quite an incredible experience connecting with someone who has had a very different life experience than I had when I was that age,” Medved said. “To see his courage is very heartening and impressive.”
The two started working together on the design of the figure. It needed to represent Ukraine defending itself along with the help it is receiving from Western nations, Medved said. The model depicts a Ukrainian special operations soldier with a British-manufactured Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, which the UK shipped to Ukraine for defense.
In a statement from Klimenko that Medved provided to Colorado Community Media exclusively, Klimenko said:
“I am directly interested in this fundraising since the war directly affected me personally. I have friends who serve in the Ukrainian army. All the property of my family was destroyed already two times, first eight years ago, (and) now again. My younger brother and mother are now in forced immigration to Germany and my father is now undergoing a medical examination and may go to war. All my life I spoke Russian, since the city in which I lived was on the border with Russia. I’m probably more Russian than Ukrainian, I’m exactly the person whom the Russians would ‘save’ from the ‘terrible Nazis’ but the Russians bring destruction and poverty, pain and suffering and nothing more.”
Once Klimenko finished with the design, Medved moved forward with finding a platform through which Americans could participate in the fundraising effort. He put the model on Gumroad.com, which is an e-commerce website that allows for a pay-what-you-can price.
Using this method, people can receive a 3D printable file that can be sent to their email or downloaded directly from the Gumroad website. Medved has tested 3D printing the model from between 20mm, which is about 1 inch, to 60mm, which is just larger than 2 inches.
For those who do not have a 3D printer, the Denver Public Library has 3D printers available in its ideaLABs, and the University of Denver has 3D printers available for public use in its Maker Space at the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Another option for those who do not own a 3D printer is to order a model. Medved has arranged with a Swedish company called Speira Miniatures to host the fundraiser. Speira Miniatures can print the 3D files and ship the models. Shipping cost is about $13 and is not included in the amount people donate for the model to go toward the fundraiser. Using the Speira Miniatures option, the models can be printed to be about 6 inches tall.
Medved is currently working on reaching out to local tabletop gaming and hobby stores to see if they are interested in carrying the models for the fundraiser. It’s in the works, Medved said, but nothing had been finalized by the newspapers’ press date.
With either option currently available — download the file and print locally or order through Speira Miniatures — the suggested donation is $10. All donations go directly to the National Bank of Ukraine’s special fundraising account for Ukraine’s armed forces. The bank reports its spending of this money, Medved said. He added that at the time he read the reports, money from this fund was used to purchase body armor and protective supplies, in addition to medical supplies.
“A lot of people have been following the news and are horrified with what Putin’s army is doing, but they don’t know how to help,” Medved said. “This is one way I thought I could help in a way that I’m familiar with. It’s a small thing but a direct way to help.”
Klimenko is also glad to be involved in the fundraising effort.
“I believe in our victory,” Klimenko said via the above-mentioned conversation with Medved. “And because of this project, you will become part of that victory. Thank you!”