Johnny Devenanzio is a well known villain on The Challenge. But now he’s showing that he has a heart of gold when it comes to helping those in need. Much like celebs Bethenny Frankel and Dancing with the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Bananas heeded the call to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war.
Johnny Bananas recently spoke with E! News about joining a humanitarian convoy to deliver medical aid and other supplies to the people of Ukraine. Despite the danger, Johnny recalled when a friend asked him if he would “make the trip.” He stated, “I just wanted to contribute in some way shape or form. And it’s easy to be like, I want to donate money to the Red Cross, or whatever. And that’s all fine and great, but I feel like I am able bodied enough. My skills would be better put to use if I was actually able to like go and contribute and be on the ground.”
To start his journey, Johnny flew into Poland, where he met a multitude of refugees. As of March 29th, over 4 million Ukrainians have fled the war. One refugee that Johnny met was a woman and her daughter. They had to leave behind her son and husband. Men from the ages of 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine during the war. Johnny believes that the woman’s daughter was about 3 years old. Said Johnny of the interaction, “She goes, ‘she has no idea what’s even going on right now—she kind of thinks she’s on a trip. But We had to leave with nothing. We had to leave with the clothes on our back.'”
Some of the items that Johnny distributed to refugees include diapers, baby food, canned goods and candy. He also made a personal contribution – playing the guitar for two children in strollers at a Polish train station. Johnny revealed, “We sat down for probably three, four hours as people came off the train and kind of milled around this little area they were in, just handing out candy and playing guitar and just danced with them and sang with them. It was just another way for me to just kind of use. One of my talents to help put a smile on people’s faces.”
When it came to his travels to Ukraine, that in itself was hard to see as well. He recalled “people sitting around trash cans warming themselves and there’s babies that are bundled up and their parents are trying to keep them warm. And there’s little tents set up to provide people with hot meals and food.” Johnny went on, “The second you cross the border [into Ukraine], it just felt, you could feel just the suffering there. And you could just feel the crisis. I mean, there’s a line a mile long of people standing on the Ukrainian side of the border trying to get into Poland.”
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After crossing into Ukraine, Johnny and the other volunteers went to the city of Lviv. Which was a dangerous feat. The day before, Russian forces were launching missile strikes only a few miles from the city. Lviv was previously considered a safe haven, but has since come under attack and its residents had no choice but to flee. Johnny and the group dropped off supplies to Ukrainian troops. He explained, “I mean, these are like, teenagers that are sitting there, that have stayed behind. They were so thankful that we went. We brought them a bunch of food. We brought them a bunch of supplies as well. We had someone donate a bunch of military helmets.”
Once he left Lviv, he ended his trip at an oncology hospital to hand out medical supplies. Johnny confessed, “I wish we had more. Like, I wish we had a semi-truck. I wish we had 10 semi-trucks full of stuff.” Once home, Johnny said his trip was “an eye-opening experience,” and said, “You just wish you could do more.”
TELL US – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT JOHNNY’S HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS? ARE YOU PROUD OF HIM FOR HIS WORK? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HIM BACK ON THE CHALLENGE?
[Photo Credit: MTV]