(NewsNation) — Model Veronika Vonza, a runner-up in the Miss Ukraine competition and a former “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant, documented her dayslong ordeal trying to escape from Ukraine with her family that finally ended in Los Angeles.
“We didn’t want to leave at first,” Vonza said. “A couple of our friends from other countries called in and said, ‘You guys have to leave. It’s going to get worse.'”
Taking only the essentials, Vonza, her younger brother Tony, their mother, their dog and a couple of friends piled into a car and started driving away from Kyiv, toward Poland. Vonza’s father stayed behind to help defend the country.
But almost immediately after leaving Kyiv, they hit snags.
“The normal way from Kyiv — we’re from Kyiv — to Poland is straight down, diagonally,” she said, demonstrating the route with her hand. “But we couldn’t go that way because the bridge was destroyed.”
Readjusting their route, the family encountered heavy traffic of escaping refugees, Ukrainian forces headed toward the capital city, detours and gas shortages on their eight-day journey to the Slovakian border.
Once in Slovakia, the family crossed into Poland, where their mother stayed behind to aid relief efforts. Meanwhile, the siblings made their way to their grandparents’ home in California.
“We’re really hoping that the world is going to make some major decisions in terms of helping Ukraine,” Vonza said.