Publish Date

The following is an excerpt of an Illinois Times article published on Sept. 29, 2022

"Chase Wilhelm thinks of Ignat Striletskyi's journey, which brought the 18-year-old from Ukraine to Springfield shortly after the Russian invasion in February, as a piece of fabric that a higher power must have helped create.

"It's a mystery of God," said Wilhelm, 38, a Montgomery County resident, state worker and ordained Disciples of Christ minister.

"We have to be careful when we say that God has a plan," he said. "But you can't tease it out of the cloth of Ignat's story – that interweaving of fortune, of faith, of luck, along with the interweaving of dedication and hard work."

Using his connections and experience as a U.S. Army veteran in Special Operations, Wilhelm single-handedly drove Striletskyi, the young man's mother and 19 additional Ukrainian refugees to other European countries during the chaotic period immediately after the Russian invasion began Feb. 24.

Wilhelm helped Striletskyi (pronounced "stri-LET-skee"), who had been studying law at a top university in Kharkiv near Ukraine's northeastern border with Russia, deal with bureaucratic hurdles to travel to Springfield this summer.

Striletskyi now is a freshman political science major at University of Illinois Springfield on a student visa, enjoying his studies and working out as a walk-on, 6-foot 4-inch goalkeeper for the UIS soccer team."

Read the article online