MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The hugs couldn't wait for Halyna Marchenko and her two children.
Relatives ran down before they fully cleared security Tuesday night at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to greet them after their expedition from Ukraine to Raleigh.
"On Wednesday, it was normal life for us," Marchenko said. "On Thursday, everything changed. It was so scary because I have two small children."
Marchenko was met by her two sisters and others with balloons and flowers.
"I'm lucky but there are so many people in Ukraine even women with children who are not so lucky," she said.
She and her two children and two other family members started in Kyiv. Marchenko's husband, who cannot leave the country, drove them to Lviv and from there they walked for hours before being picked up by Polish friends.
They then flew from Warsaw to Munich. Then Munich to Washington, D.C., and then to Raleigh.
"The husbands are there, our brothers are there and our children are there fighting for our freedom," said Ulyana Marchenko, Halyna's sister. "Ukraine is the most peaceful nation in the world."
Their mother is still there in the country. She tells her daughter, "When the sun goes down, I'm scared. Our capital is destroyed."
They were able to get out of harm's way because of the generosity of an Apex couple who has donated hundreds of thousands of United Airlines miles to help people like Marchenko.
A United Airlines team was also at the airport to greet everybody.
"It's amazing," Marchenko said. "I don't have the words to explain it to you. It's amazing our whole family is together in one place. Now I can sleep."