'It's so sad': Ukrainian skating instructor in Wake Forest speaks out on family, invasion

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- If there is a place Slava Petukhova can get away from the news in Ukraine, it's on the ice.

She teaches skating at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest.

"I just want to explain to people that it's so sad, it's so harsh," she said. "It's so painful for Ukrainians to go through this. First, because we're being attacked and second because you're being attacked by our relatives."

It's even harder because she knows her family is in harm's way including her sister Dina.

"Keep hope and be sure that everything will be OK," said Dina Nikitenko over Zoom from Ukraine.

She left Kyiv a few days ago with her nearly 7-year-old son.

She's now in the far western part of the country in a city that's close to the border with Slovakia and Hungary.

"I was driving with my child and my animals," she said. "In the last moment, I left Kyiv. I made the decision because of my child."

Other family members tried to leave too but they weren't as lucky.

Dina said her parents were waiting for a train so they could be relocated to a safer place but "a rocket fell down near the railway station."

Luckily, they are OK.

Meantime, Slava is helping to raise money for the humanitarian effort in Wake Forest. She helped organize a skating fundraiser Tuesday at the Polar Ice House and is helping to plan another skate the Cary one this coming Tuesday.

"Kyiv is over 1,500 years old, they have pubs and churches and everything and it's so beautiful and it's so sad," Slava said. "It's going to be devastating. It's going to be lost."
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.