A Life Changing Welcome

In 1999, 12-year-old Ayda Zugay and her older sister boarded a plane to America, fleeing the former Yugoslavia with barely anything to their name.


Envelope with a handwritten message from Tracy to the girls

On board, a fellow passenger slipped the young refugees an envelope with $100, a pair of earrings, and a note. “I am so sorry that the bombing of your country has caused your family any problems" it read. "I hope your stay in America will be a safe and happy one for you - Welcome to America - please use this to help you here. A friend from the plane - Tracy”


For years, Zugav has been trying to find the woman who she says brought an immeasurable amount of comfort and hope with her gesture - comfort and hope that neither sister has ever forgotten.


Now, here's where things get really, really good. A couple of weeks ago, CNN wrote a story about the sisters, and within days, the mysterious Tracy was found!


Photos of Tracy and Ayda
Tracy Peck, left, and Ayda Zugay.

Tracy Peck says she clearly remembers seeing the two girls on the plane, scared and unsure, surviving violence and displacement that Peck couldn't imagine. Peck and the sisters had an emotional reunion over video call.


"You both are remarkable young women," Peck told them. "I'm so thankful I was sitting next to you on that airplane...and so proud of you both for what you've become and how your life has turned out here."