AFC Ann Arbor co-founder secures over $70K for Ukrainian refugees

Currently in Poland, Lorenc is bringing help to those fleeing violence

Ukranian refugees arrive at Przemysl train station in Przemysl, Poland, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The U.N. refugee agency said Saturday that nearly 120,000 people have so far fled into neighboring countries and that number is going up fast. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) (Bernat Armangue, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Mike Lorenc is taking the AFC Ann Arbor spirit all the way to Europe.

The soccer club co-founder and Google executive is spending a month in his native Poland helping refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Originally from Lublin, a Polish town less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian border, Lorenc moved to the United States in 1992.

As part of his trip, Lorenc is helping to provide refugees with hot meals, water, clothes and other essentials in Chelm and Lublin, as well as at the border crossing area of Dorohusk.

To fund the efforts, he created a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $75,000. At the time of writing, almost $73,000 has been donated.

“As a young kid, I got involved with the ‘Orange Alternative’ Movement when I tried to do my small part to oppose authoritarian and Soviet regimes.

“I ultimately was able to celebrate free, democratic and independent Poland - witnessing the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 1st Free Democratic Elections in Poland and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“I understand 1st hand what a totalitarian, communist regime can do and simply can’t just watch what’s happening in Ukraine right now,” Lorenc wrote for the campaign.

The Ann Arborite is adding $20,000 of his own money to the relief effort and is chronicling his trip through the GoFundMe.

He has also partnered with AFC Ann Arbor to bring soccer balls and equipment to refugee camps.

In a campaign update on Sunday, Lorenc said donations are being spent on things including food, water, shoes, backpacks, personal hygiene products, clothes, swimsuits, toys and school supplies like crayons and notebooks. He checks in with refugee centers to see what is most needed.

He wrote that refugee children have nicknamed him “Pirat Misha” (Pirate Mike), a name he has embraced and signed the recent update with.

“Every penny of your donations is being used directly to support those that need it most,” Lorenc wrote.

Those interested in donating can visit the GoFundMe page here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.