August 18, 2022
http3A2F2Fcdn.cnn .com2Fcnnnext2Fdam2Fassets2F220502133147 tracy peck and ayda zuday split

(CNN) — Tracy Peck was working errands Saturday when she received a sequence of texts and calls that shocked her — first from her tennis coach, then from her greatest buddy.

“Have you ever seen the CNN story?” each of them informed her. “That needs to be you.”

At first, Peck brushed it apart. She was driving and had no thought what they had been speaking about. Then she pulled over and opened the hyperlink they’d despatched.

A image of a letter in her handwriting popped onto Peck’s iPhone display. As quickly as she noticed it, she says, recollections from a plane experience 23 years ago got here dashing again.

She remembered sitting subsequent to 2 sisters fleeing the former Yugoslavia. She remembered how younger and frightened the refugees appeared, how they reminded her of her personal daughters and the way their expertise fleeing conflict was heartbreaking and in contrast to something she’d ever handled.

She remembered reaching into her purse earlier than they received off the flight, pulling out an envelope, writing them a notice and putting her dangly earrings and a $100 invoice inside.

Peck had no thought then how a lot that envelope would come to imply to each women. And till she learn the CNN story Saturday, Peck says she had no concept that considered one of the sisters, Ayda Zugay, had been looking for her for almost a decade.

Tracy Peck, left, had no concept that Ayda Zuday, proper, had been looking for her for almost a decade.

Courtesy Tracy Peck and Ayda Zuday

Tears streamed down the 70-year-old therapeutic massage therapist’s face as she learn the sisters’ descriptions of how the present had modified their lives. For years Peck, who lives in suburban Minneapolis, says she’d labored to show her kids to be type, telling them you by no means understand how your actions would possibly have an effect on others. She by no means imagined she’d expertise such a beautiful instance of how actually necessary an act of kindness could be.

She wasn’t positive learn how to attain the sisters, however she knew she wanted to strive.

Family and friends helped with a whirlwind of tweets, emails and texts, and fewer than a day later, Peck and the sisters reunited on an emotional Zoom name.

She informed them she’d been ceaselessly modified by listening to this newest chapter of their story.

“It warms my coronary heart past something I’ve ever skilled in my life,” she stated.

This childhood picture of Ayda Zugay and her sister, Vanja, was taken after they got here to the United States. Tracy Peck says she remembers assembly them on a flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis.

Courtesy Ayda Zugay

How they discovered one another

Ayda Zugay couldn’t imagine her eyes. There, smiling in the middle of her laptop display, was Tracy — the woman who she’d been attempting to find for therefore lengthy with solely an envelope, a first title and her personal recollections to assist her.

Zugay remembered the woman who sat subsequent to her and her sister had been carrying a tennis racket and talked about enjoying in Paris. And he or she knew she may always remember the lovely act of generosity welcoming her and her sister to the United States. She was excited so many extra individuals now knew the story, too — and particularly thrilled to see many individuals tweeting that they needed to be extra like Tracy.

This 1999 picture reveals Tracy Peck (circled in pink) on a group journey with different Minnesota girls to play tennis and watch the French Open.

Courtesy Deanne Sand Johnson

The CNN story circulated quickly on-line, reaching greater than 2 million readers. After it printed, Zugay says she was amazed to get messages of assist from as far-off as Angola, Brazil and India. On social media, many stated they had been impressed by Tracy’s generosity and supplied recommendations of latest search avenues to find her.

What about attempting to get a passenger manifest from US Customs and Border Safety? Or a DNA pattern from the envelope? Or getting the US Tennis Affiliation to publicize her search to their members?

Zugay felt impressed to maintain going with her search. However in the finish, she didn’t want to show to the concepts newbie sleuths had despatched on social media to find Tracy. As an alternative, two of Tracy’s shut contacts got here to her.

Tracy’s tennis coaches helped piece collectively the puzzle

First Zugay noticed a tweet from considered one of Peck’s daughters, alerting her to the handwriting match. Then a tennis coach reached out.

That coach, Susan Allen, additionally acknowledged Peck’s handwriting. However much more than that, the story made sense.

Requested by CNN to offer an instance of her handwriting, Tracy Peck rewrote this model of the 1999 notice. Peck, 70, says her handwriting is so distinctive that it’s a working joke with her buddies — to not point out she’s identified for utilizing emojis and at all times signing her title with a coronary heart.

Courtesy Tracy Peck

“Figuring out Tracy,” she informed CNN, “that’s precisely what Tracy would do.” Allen says she’s identified Peck for years as a beneficiant individual who doesn’t assume twice about serving to others.

However Allen anticipated extra proof could be wanted to point out that Zugay and Peck had been on the similar plane. Allen reached out to her fellow coach, Deanne Sand Johnson. Collectively, they scoured their information to assist.

Again in Could 1999, their firm Love / To Journey gave girls in Minnesota a probability to journey internationally to play tennis and watch tournaments. They led a group of 18 girls — together with Peck — to Paris that month to look at the French Open.

Johnson saved a scrapbook documenting the journey. One web page featured a staff picture. One other included a receipt from a journey company with the group’s itinerary. The second leg of their return journey was a flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis on Could 31, 1999 — the similar date and route Zugay recalled flying.

This receipt shared by considered one of Tracy Peck’s tennis coaches reveals the itinerary for his or her group’s 1999 journey. They had been on a flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis on Could 31.

Courtesy Deanne Sand Johnson

Allen began a group textual content placing Peck and Zugay in contact. Then she shared the photographs.

“The images are so surreal to see!” Zugay wrote. “That is so lovely!”

Allen was thrilled. “I’m taking deep tennis breaths I’m so excited,” she wrote.

Zugay, who lives in Boston, instructed a Zoom reunion the subsequent day.

“So excited that I can’t even sort!” she informed the group.

She was more and more satisfied she’d discovered the mystery woman she’d been looking for, however nonetheless she didn’t know what to anticipate.

Earlier than the name, she went to a park to calm her nerves. She realized one thing she’d wanted for years lastly was inside attain.

They shared an emotional reunion over Zoom

Zugay felt much more relieved the second she heard Peck’s voice.

“Good day lovely girls!” Peck cried gleefully as the Zoom name started. Zugay observed she was carrying dangly earrings, similar to she had been the day they met on the plane.

“It’s been greater than 20 years,” Zugay stated, holding up the envelope.

A web page from Johnson’s scrapbook reveals the receipt and photographs of the tennis tour group as they ready to go away Minneapolis in Could 1999.

Courtesy Deanne Sand Johnson

Peck informed the sisters how vividly she remembered what it felt like when she met them.

“It simply touched my coronary heart a lot that I simply felt compelled that I had that will help you ultimately,” she stated.

Zugay’s sister, Vanja Contino, chimed in from her Connecticut dwelling.

“Your generosity remains to be in me,” she stated, “as a result of I’ve been paying it ahead ever since.”

Zugay informed Peck issues she’d needed to share with the notice’s creator for years — how grateful she was, why the present had meant a lot, how uncommon she now is aware of such welcoming messages are, how they’d used the cash to scrape by consuming pancake combine and Coca Cola for a complete summer time.

She admitted she’d been nervous about the Zoom at first, then realized that all of a sudden she was feeling stronger.

“You understand these large doorways that they’ve in outdated locations throughout the world? It felt like that huge, heavy door simply received shut. And I’m lastly in a position to transfer ahead and thrive. … And it simply makes me so joyful,” Zugay stated. “Thanks for reminding me to be sturdy.”

Peck stated she was the one who was grateful. At a time when there’s a lot ache and struggling in the world, she hopes others will take extra time to offer again.

On the 1999 journey to look at the French Open, Tracy Peck (proper) and her teammates met tennis star Monica Seles.

Courtesy Deanne Sand Johnson

“I simply wish to encourage all people in the world to simply be type. What does it harm? Besides it helps everybody. Smile, make eye contact, assist anybody that’s in hassle or at risk. And I simply don’t know why anybody wouldn’t try this,” she stated. “So, I’m very, very grateful that I’ve discovered you women, that you’ve discovered me.”

“Sure, we did,” Zugay laughed. It nonetheless felt unusual to say it out loud.

“You probably did, in spite of everything that very long time,” Peck stated. “And we have now a lot of catching as much as do.”

They hope to fulfill up in individual sometime

On Sunday, the catching up started. Contino launched Peck to her daughters. Peck launched considered one of her daughters and two of her grandchildren.

Collectively, Peck and the sisters marveled in any respect the components that led to them being seated in the similar row that day, how many individuals had labored collectively to share the story and the way social media helped them reconnect so shortly over the weekend.

Peck, proven right here with members of her tennis tour group close to the Eiffel Tower, says she isn’t positive now which of her buddies was sitting in the row close to her on the flight again to Minneapolis. Zugay remembered one other individual named Tracy, and serving to somebody with knitting. Peck was the solely Tracy in the group, however coaches say no less than two others had been knitters. Zugay hopes she’ll even have a probability to talk with whoever it was sometime.

Courtesy Tracy Peck

Crossing paths that day, and once more lastly 23 years later, felt meant to be.

They talked about the chance of assembly up in individual sometime. Perhaps they may even spend a Memorial Day weekend collectively in the future, marking the anniversary of when Zugay and Contino arrived in the United States.

Peck promised the sisters that every time they go to, she’ll make them the greatest pancakes they’ve ever had.

A latest picture reveals sisters Vanja Contino and Ayda Zugay. “You each are exceptional younger girls,” Tracy Peck informed them of their latest Zoom reunion. “I’m so grateful I used to be sitting subsequent to you on that airplane…and so happy with you each for what you’ve change into and the way your life has turned out right here.”

Courtesy Ayda Zugay

Peck already had 5 kids — three daughters and two stepsons. She feels that now she has two extra.

They might have been strangers 23 years ago when Peck wrote that notice on the plane. However now, Peck says, they’re household.

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