KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the crisis in Ukraine continues, the Parade of Hearts committee wanted to create a special piece to show Ukrainians that our hearts are with them.

It was unveiled Thursday afternoon at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, many Ukrainians have stayed there defending their country.

It’s that fighting spirit that Jeremy Collins wanted to portray in a special heart designed to support Ukraine.

Collins was selected to design the special heart for the Parade of Hearts.

“When I first started hearing about what was happening in Ukraine, I think like a lot of people, I was left speechless and helpless and not sharing sure how to respond. And so, one of my common responses is to draw something in response,” he said.

That led him to design the “heart fist.”

“The symbol of raised fists takes on a lot of meaning,” he said. “It’s the power of resistance. It’s peaceful protest. And when you pair it with a heart, it means a little more than that.”

Plus, it features hand drawings from Ukrainian children in a refugee center.

The heart sits visibly in front of the National World War I Memorial.

“We thought, let’s, let’s use the parade of hearts as a platform to send a message to them that we have their back that we’re with them,” Tucker Trotter, the Parade of Hearts co-founder and CEO of Dimensional Innovations, said.

A message that tugs at Luyda Stewart’s heart strings.

“When we were told about that heart being created, it just breaks your heart. Because you see, the humongous support that we are receiving this is almost like, this is almost overwhelming,” she said.

Stewart is from Ukraine and has been in Kansas City for more than a decade. She is part of the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City.

She said her heart breaks for her family and friends still over there, but she feels this artwork with the fist represents the strength Ukrainians have.

“Ukrainians are very independent, very brave people and they are not going to give up. And that’s what we’re known for. Ukrainians have never attacked anyone, but they know how to defend themselves and they will be fighting till the end,” Stewart said.

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