Days after her wedding, a Wicker Park woman was preparing to leave Chicago for her native Ukraine to fight against Russia and defend the country where she was born.
Maria, who is a trained musician living in the Chicago area, arrived Monday night at O'Hare International Airport to board a flight to Poland where she plans to help with refugees at the border.
Just few days earlier, on Saturday, Maria married her fiancé, David.
Next week, David will set off for Poland and join Maria at the border where they'll both travel into Ukraine and join the fight against Russia.
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"It is chaos over there," Maria said. "I will help at [the] border, then when he arrives we will keep going, and we will try to join defensive fleet."
It is a life-altering decision that she didn’t have to think about.
“It is harder when you are not there,” she previously told NBC 5. “All of my people are there. I’d rather go there and do stuff that needs to be done.”
Watching the images on television – and hearing the stories – fueled her desire to be back in Ukraine.
“I am strong and stubborn,” she said. “I also speak all the languages in the region. I speak Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, English, so I can be useful.”
David, Maria's husband, will be there right by her side.
"I'm going there cause I made her mother a promise that I would keep her safe," he said. "So I am going for my wife."
Even as the White House has urged Americans not to travel to Ukraine, Maria said changing their plans weren't an option.
"I'm just trying to go one step at a time, get there," she said. "Figure it out and do my best."