Cary family opens home to Ukrainian mom, daughter seeking fresh start after fleeing war

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than 15 million donated airline miles are helping Ukrainians flee their war-torn country.

ABC11 first told you about the Apex couple, MG and his wife, Dawnna, who started a movement of donating their frequent flier miles to help with the humanitarian efforts. Other travelers joined in and more than 240 families have made it to safety, many here in the Triangle.

Besides donating airline miles, this community is also stepping up to give those who left everything behind, a fresh start.

Iryna Pyrohova is one of those Ukrainians now living in Cary.

"I wanted her to be safe that is the most important," Pyrohova said, referring to her 19-month-old daughter Alisa. Pyrohova grabbed her daughter and fled her home country of Ukraine just days after the war with Russia started.

"I was really was lost. I didn't know where to go," she recalled.

She documented her journey out of her homeland, as she fled on a crowded bus through Moldova, then to Romania. Through the power of social media, Pyrohova spotted a Facebook page that belongs to MG, a Wake County businessman.

He and his wife open the gates to their Apex home every Christmas and invite families to see Lights on Holt Road. Now he's using his popular platform to make a plea for people to donate their airline miles to get Ukrainians out of the war zone.

Pyrohova didn't have money to buy her ticket, but when she reached out to MG on social media. He stepped up and gave her some miles.

"Basically those miles can be a lifeline to families who are in desperate need," MG said.

But the problem wasn't over, Pyrohova also didn't know a single person in the United States.

MG once again reached out, asking if anyone could sponsor Pyrohova and her daughter.

That's when Irene Acosta picked up the mantle.

"I'm an immigrant to the United States from Venezuela, and I can understand how it's like how you have to leave the country there is not an option to go back, start a new life in the US," Acosta said.

Once the US granted Pyrohova humanitarian parole, she along with her daughter arrived at RDU airport and saw a welcoming smile on Acosta's face.

"I want her to feel like she's safe," Acosta said when asked why she offered up her home to the displaced mother and daughter.

After a week of settling in Cary, Pyrohova daughter Alisa found an instant playmate in Acosta's son as they are just one month apart.

"No regrets it was a destiny," Pyrohova said.

Besides Acosta opening her home, others in the community have opened their hearts. Jennifer Smith, a mom in Apex, donated several items for Alisa, and her neighborhood also collected donations for the mom and daughter--like toys, clothes, and lots of baby items.

"I just saw the story and I used to be a teacher until just recently with a pandemic, and my heart breaks for people in need," Smith said.

Pyrohova said she is overwhelmed by the generosity. "The people -- it's amazing. People are very helpful. They ask him do you need help do you need this and that."

A GoFundMe is also raising money to give Pyrohova and her daughter a fresh start; so far more than $7,800 has been donated.

While Pyrohova is so grateful for the generosity of those in the Triangle, she still worries dearly for her family still trapped in Ukraine.
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