A series of wildfires in Greece in the summer of 2018 killed almost 100 people. On July 23, 2018, a wildfire started west of Athens near Kineta. A few hours later, a second wildfire started burning north of Athens near Penteli. Due to very strong wind gusts in the area, both wildfires spread quickly and people were trapped inside their houses. Many people did what they could to come to the aid of those trapped by bringing water, medical supplies and all sorts of essential items. Looming tall among the volunteers was Olympiacos Piraeus center Georgios Bogris.
Once Bogris gathered information about the most effective way to help people in that situation, he leaped into action. First, he purchased medicines that were most needed in that area and then went to a supermarket to get all the food that was recommended to bring in this situation.
"It was a horrible day for Greece, our home. It is something that nobody expected to happen. Suddenly, on a Sunday morning, all this mess happened in Greece and it was very sad. For me, it was not even a dilemma," Bogris recalled. "The first day that I saw that I could go and help, I went there. In the first three or four days, it was so dangerous that nobody could go there. It took my car and did what I thought was right, what all people should do. As a country, we need to be like a fist and help each other. I am happy to do this and I would be honored if I inspired or motivated someone else to do the same.
"As a country, we need to be like a fist and help each other. I am happy to do this and I would be honored if I inspired or motivated someone else to do the same."
"Since I was a kid, I learned that you need to have some values in life, not only to help, but to put yourself in their position and do things that I would like to be done for me if I were in the same situation. I did a small part; maybe I could have done better, but I did what I thought was right at that moment. I did what I did, and I just hope we will not be in the same situation again."
Bogris not only brought a car full of medical supplies and basic necessities, but stuck around to help for a long time, too.
"I tried to visit all the pharmacies I could around my area. There were announcements about the medicines that were needed, so I read them and bought what they said was most necessary. Then I made a stop at a supermarket to buy a lot of water and dry food, as well as necessities stuff, like diapers for babies. I drove there, left my stuff and I also stayed there for eight or nine hours after that to help unload other supplies from other people's cars who were stopping by to help, doing the same I was doing" Bogris said. "It was a great experience and made me humbler. It is a situation I had never faced in my life. I saw the pain in the eyes of some people, and I also saw hope because so many people tried to help and be there and do things. I am really happy about this because hope is what pushes us to move on and give your best, to help people. In hope, we trust and dream."
One of the lessons Bogris took from the wildfire crisis is the need to take preventative actions to ensure people's safety. He thinks that famous people, who can influence many, should take the first step to make people aware that some situations can be avoided and we all must work hard to prevent them.
"It is a matter of mentality; we must try to help people before they are at the limit, in a critical situation, where there is no tomorrow. If we were able to change that, it would be incredible, something great and awesome. All the people who have fans and are followed to must start to do something and prepare for tomorrow," Bogris stressed.
"We have to prevent bad things from happening. Once it happens, everybody has the will to help and this is great, but preventing bad things from happening would be even better."
"A great example for me is Leonardo Di Caprio and what he is doing with his foundation, protecting the world’s last wild places and caring about the environment before it is too late. This is a guy followed by millions of people, and I hope that more people like him will start doing what he does, to make people have this mentality to help others. We have to prevent bad things from happening. Once it happens, everybody has the will to help and this is great, but preventing bad things from happening would be even better."
Asked about why he did it, Bogris left it clear - he didn't want people to find out, he just wanted to help people in need at the worst moment of their lives: "When you do things like this, you don't do it for people to have a good image of you. You do it from your heart. You do it because you feel the need to help others, because you want to give something to people who are in pain. I didn't want people to know, but it went up to social media. I tried to help because I felt it and when you help, everything comes back. I believe in karma and that life is a cycle. If you give good things, you will get good things, too."
Karma, indeed, gave back to Bogris. By helping people in need, he has learned a valuable lesson. From that moment, Bogris has tried to be in touch with the real world, away from the flashes, and has been more down-to-Earth than ever.
"Seeing how people reacted was something great, but made me humbler. Athletes, we live in a small world and think that everything is great outside. Sometimes we don't see the problems of people next to us, because we have a totally different lifestyle, traveling all the time, worrying about if he scores or if the ball is slippery, if we have some pain here and there. Compared to people out there, our worries are nothing, stuff that doesn't even matter. Being there helps me keep my feet on the ground, closer to reality. It helped me as a person, and I hope to keep helping people who need it. And I hope that Greece will never be again in a situation like this."