BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (FOX 9) - Over the last month, the Holiuk family has been settling into a new life in Minnesota, even trying their hand at the quintessentially American sport of baseball.
But since February, things have been anything but fun and games. After the war broke out in Ukraine, the family of five escaped from their home in hard-hit Donetsk, making their way to Poland and eventually connecting with Alight, a Minnesota-based humanitarian relief organization.
"It was very difficult to leave everything behind everything that you build up for years, as well as friends and other family members," said Vadim Holiuk.
Vadim, Luibov, and their three girls recently became the first Ukrainian refugees to be welcomed to the North Star State through a new program by the non-profit. The goal is to welcome 99 more families to Minnesota with the help of sponsors like Mark and Sharon Norlander.
"They are coming out of a terrible situation, but they are able to find some normalcy here," said Mark.
"They have to choose a home, choose a school, get a driver's license... they have to do it all at once," said Sharon.
Over the last few weeks, the Nordlanders have been helping the family with things like getting Social Security numbers and registering their daughters for school.
Vadim says he can finally sleep peacefully knowing they are all safe.
"(We) are grateful for everything that this country has done to Ukrainians so far," said Vadim.
The focus now is finding a permanent home here and getting acclimated to life in the U.S. Their daughters can't wait to go trick-or-treating for the first time and already have their Halloween costumes picked out – zombies!