WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Polish immigrant, known to many as the king of polka music, now lives in Palm Beach County and is doing his part to aid refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Jan Lewandowski is stepping up to help families in need as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds.
Fear and chaos are how Lewandowski describes the crisis along the border in his home country of Poland.
"Even when I talk about it, [I] cannot hold back [my] tears," Lewandowski said.
The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter returned to West Palm Beach on Sunday night from a weeklong mission trip in Europe.
While there he visited family and delivered suitcases packed with medical supplies for hospitals desperately in need.
"When the two soldiers were escorting them to the hospital from the border, they jumped from the hospital to open everything and they were grabbing what they need right now," Lewandoski said.
He also goes by the nickname the "Polka King," rising to fame in the 1980s, but hit rock bottom after a federal conviction landed him behind bars.
He said his prison time served as a lesson learned and has inspired him to step up and help others when they are in need.
"[It was a] good thing that I was there," Lewandoski said. "It's opened my eyes to what really can be done in your life."
During his time overseas, he captured the devastation on his cellphone and witnessed firsthand their struggles.
Among the most emotional sights, he said, was watching hundreds of thousands of refugees wait in lines that stretched for miles.
"Every refugee needs to be registered so they can freely travel around to Europe or outside of the country," Lewandoski said.
Seeing mothers leave their children behind is another image that he can't seem to shake.
He said he plans to send at least two more suitcases of supplies to local hospitals in Poland and encourages others who can help to join in solidarity.