The 42-year-old ballroom dancer went live on Instagram on Sunday, March 20, reassuring his fans that he’s “fine” after spending time in Los Angeles with his wife, Peta Murgatroyd, and son Shai, 5. “We’ve been working on tangible opportunities to help,” he explained.
Chmerkovskiy, who was born in Ukraine, spoke for 14 minutes about fundraising efforts and charitable organizations — including his Baranova27 aid project — that are providing relief for refugees. The former Dancing With the Stars pro launched his GoFundMe page earlier this month and has since raised more than $138,000 for fellow Ukrainians.
The choreographer revealed that he’s in Warsaw, Poland, where he briefly stayed after escaping Ukraine in February. When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Chmerkovskiy was there filming World of Dance. As the crisis continues, the Burn the Floor performer urged his followers not to turn a blind eye to the strife.
“[Things] didn’t not end or slow down — it got worse in Ukraine,” he explained on Sunday. “I want everybody to understand what that means because everything that happened, happened fast, and it was traumatic and it was worldwide and everything. But right now, it is getting worse. [The] humanitarian crisis is getting worse. People are getting hurt worse, there are more people hurt and there are more people affected.”
Describing his experience in Poland, the former mirrorball champ noted that towns “are running out of space” to help shelter refugees. “This is an actual problem. A few towns already announced they cannot accept any more refugees,” he said. “Currently where I’m at in Warsaw, the middle of downtown, everywhere you go is Ukrainian. Everybody’s a refugee.”
Chmerkovskiy concluded: “I would really, really like for you guys to give yourself a day off. Tune out, go to church, spend time with your family. Do your thing. But please, come back to us and come back to [the] realization that a lot of people still need our help, and we should continue providing this support, because we now showed Ukraine as a world, that we can all do it together, and we have to continue probably doing that.”
Before her husband made his impassioned plea, Murgatroyd, 35, wished him safe travels via her Instagram Story. “Missing you already,” she wrote alongside a photo of Chmerkovskiy and Shai.
The New Zealand native previously described her emotional reunion with her spouse when he arrived back in California earlier this month. “I have never hugged him so tight,” she captioned an Instagram photo. “Shaking and forever grateful. Now it’s time to heal. We cannot go back to our normal. Our lives are forever changed. We have a new normal, and that’s OK.”
Chmerkovskiy was home for less than three weeks before returning to Poland. “I spent the last couple of days with survivor’s remorse,” he told CNN on March 7, stating at the time that he hoped to join “efforts on the ground” as a way to “justify” his safe escape. “It wasn’t really a decision to leave, it was more like I got told that I have to go.”