LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – A graduating senior and member of Utah State University’s volleyball team, Kristy Frank, spent the majority of her lifetime in Kyiv, where she grew up.

Recently, Frank’s family who had been living in Ukraine fled to Romania for safety. In the midst of it all, Frank’s roommate and best friend, sophomore Inka Mehtola, knew she had to do something. With the help of her family, Mehtola was able to ease the tension of this challenging time for her fellow teammate. 

In an interview through the university, Frank opened up about her story that was given a heartfelt ending thanks to the Mehtola family. Frank began with her feelings regarding Russia’s invasion, saying, “…immediately I called my family. It was probably about six in the morning and my dad was just sitting in the kitchen and looking in the window and he told me, ‘Yes, I just heard some explosions,’ and I just started crying and I got so worried because it’s like your family in the middle of this.” 

She went on, disclosing how her parents’ plan to remain in Ukraine was soon uprooted after an incident that took place the following morning. 

“My mom was in the kitchen and she saw an airplane flying by our house and dropping a bomb by my friend’s house and she could see everything exploding and she said it was terrifying,” recalls Frank. “They just packed all their stuff, and they didn’t have a bus or a train or anything planned. They just went outside hoping to get somewhere further.”

Fortunately, Frank’s mother’s church reached out to her with a golden opportunity. 

“They called her and told her if you need to get out of Kyiv there’s one chance and there’s one bus going to a city called Chernivtsi. That’s where my mom is from, and it’s very close to Romania, so they went there and they didn’t even know where the bus was going. They’d find out when they got there. It was a big miracle and just a blessing from God…” 

When the Franks arrived across the Ukrainian border, they were met by people who offered them a secure place to stay. 

Frank continued, adding that her parents began speaking with her less after they arrived in Romania. 

“I told them that Inka, Inka’s parents are willing to help, or whatever they need, so I think they got into contact and then started communicating… I had no idea what was going on or where they were going until Inka told me that her parents told her they were trying to arrange and meet and help them out.” 

Inka’s mother and father reside in Finland, a European country bordering Sweden off the Baltic Sea. The pair had never met Frank’s parents face-to-face, other than through FaceTime when their daughters would call them simultaneously from Utah State. 

The sophomore volleyball star opened up about her choice to help Frank, sharing, “It’s very hard to see your best friend going through that type of stuff… My mom’s going to pick them up from the Capitol and they’re coming to my place for a while, and then we’re gonna see what’s gonna be the next step.”

Frank emphasized her parents’ gratitude for Inka’s family’s generosity.

“First of all, it’s even… incredibly… lucky to find a friend like that, like Inka – a soulmate – and then for her parents to be like another best friend to my parents is so rare.”

She went on to affirm the relief she felt wash over her after finding out her parents would be turned over to the safe hands of the Mehtolas. The Frank family officially arrived in Finland on March 4.

Kristy and Inka FaceTime their mothers in Finland

The Ukrainian-since-birth neared the end of her interview with a tribute to her hometown. 

“With everything that’s going on now, there’s no giving up,” says Frank. “People are so resilient. They’re gonna fight for their county because they’ve already been fighting for their county for so many years… You can just see the difference between some people, maybe in Russia, who are scared to go protest, and then people in Ukraine who are just going out there fighting against tanks.”

In speaking to her brothers and sisters overseas, an emotional Frank signed off, adding, “All the world is on your side. I believe everything will be good and God will help the people of Ukraine and the country to stay strong and stay Ukraine.”

A GoFundMe for the family has also been set up. To donate to the campaign, click here.