We Did It. The Drones for Ukraine Have Shipped.
Our dronation effort to send a reconnaissance drone to Ukraine is complete. In the end a team of sixty people came together and we shipped not one, but two drones with a third on the way.
It's official. They're out the door.
I have checked my UPS tracking numbers to make sure both drones had been received at the shipping center in New Jersey for UNITED24. From here, they are in other hands and will make their way to the front lines.
When I started this fundraiser in October, the target was to buy a single state-of-the-art reconnaissance drone exactly to the desired specifications posted on UNITED24. And that's the one that I picked. Thermal camera. Can go up miles. 30 minute flight time. If you are interested in this sort of thing, the specs are here.
I know nothing about drones, but I knew this is what Ukraine was asking for. $7,600 at the time. Putting this out there with a target of $7,600, I had a wave of insecurity around getting this done. There's nothing like a public stand, though, to keep one's focus sharp.
I worried too much.
Almost sixty people came together to purchase these. The Friday before Christmas a wave of contributions came in and we hit the target number and then some. Zelenskyy’s appearance before Congress had a huge impact on this effort.
Then, on Christmas Day, I’m not joking, I checked the price for the drone and it was $4,900.
I raced into the other room and asked my wife Melanie if we could do it. (Mel, I love you for being here and supporting this 100%.)
There was enough over the original donation level to get us in striking distance. We ordered two of them.
It was quite the Christmas present for me, for the amazing team that pulled this together and for the two units of soldiers that will receive these.
We still have a volunteered third drone that has not been shipped, but will be on its way shortly. In the end, the total value of the drones we be around $14K. If we calculated value from the original prices, we’d be looking at closer to $18K.
The looks on their faces
Every combat mission right now, every search and rescue, every vulnerable team on the front lines uses drones. Two of these units will have state-of-the-art tools. That matters. I wish we could all see the looks on their faces when they open these boxes. A bunch of people will huddle around this box when it opens, and our team is the one that will have made this happen.
It is literally not out of the question that these drones will save a life - or lives. Take that in.
Inside of each case there is now a sticker in Ukrainian on the inside upper panel. You can see the stickers in the cases above.
The sticker text reads as follows:
To the Brave Soldiers of Ukraine,
Almost 60 citizens in the United States and England came together to provide a single drone to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. By Christmas Eve we exceeded our goal and raised over $12,000 dollars. We have now been able to purchase two separate drones. You are holding one of them.
One of our members wrote the following, and I wanted to include it:
"You are someone’s son, someone’s husband, and you have loved ones who cherish you. I am a grandmother, and I honor your efforts, your fierce commitment to the future of Ukraine. May you be kept safe, and be respected, and be loved always.”
She speaks for all of us.
A small request: if you are able and if it is allowed, could you take a picture of yourselves with the drone and send to firstname.lastname@example.org This will help us tell your story as we look for new ways to support you.
I have asked for a picture if possible from the soldiers who receive this.
I don't know if that is possible, allowed, practical or even rises to the level of important, but if there is any response from the men and possibly women who receive this, I will of course post immediately.
Something I didn’t tell anyone
I mentioned when I started this that I didn't want to be on the sidelines for this effort because I feel strongly that this is a 1939 moment, and it is important to show up here.
But there was a specific event that drove this effort, too. It was a picture.
It was too horrific to mention at the start. Too brutal. Too real, but it crystallized everything that is wrong about this war, and why Russia must be driven out of Ukraine and Ukraine’s borders need to be restored to pre-2014.
The picture is of a woman and her two children. They were killed leaving through a humanitarian corridor. They were deliberately targeted by shelling.
As unpleasant as it is, please look at this picture in the New York Times.
The mother in the photograph was Tatiana Perebeinis.
She was 43. Her daughter, Alise was 9. Her son, Nikita, was 18.
She was the chief accountant for a Palo Alto startup called SE Ranking. There has been some mild pushback on posting this fundraiser on LinkedIn because it is a professional site. I understand that, but I also think that, in its way, LinkedIn is the perfect place to post this.
Why? Because our world is very small.
Most of us are probably only a few LinkedIn connection points away from her.
I happened to be three connections apart. Which means at most you are four if you are reading this. Tatiana woke up and dropped her daughter off at school and went through Outlook and opened Excel. She answered your emails about the invoice, the withholding on your paycheck, the late payment from the vendor. She was on your Zoom call. You know her.
She is you. She is me. She's everybody on LinkedIn.
I do not believe in life we ever can "lose everything," and I wish people wouldn’t say that, because it isn’t true, but the level of tragedy for her husband is unimaginable.
So, this effort is very specifically dedicated to the memory of Tatiana, Alise and Nikita - and to their husband and father.
A final thank you
Thanks to everyone for your incredible generosity, support for me, understanding of what we were doing here, and for making this happen. We did it.
Truly this could not have been done without you. There is much work to do still, but we can close this immediate chapter knowing that we have directly supported people fighting for their lives.
If you have not had a chance or have missed the opportunity to support Ukraine, here is a link to where you can still make a difference.
Slava Ukraini. Geroyim Slava.
Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.