Peter Vodenka was born during the Cold war behind the Iron curtain in a small Communist European country. He dreamt about America, it's freedoms and opportunities, since he was 17 years old. He spent 10 years planning his daring escape. But he was married by the time he figured out how to get out alive, so his plans had to change to accommodate his 24 year-old wife, 4 year-old daughter, and 2 year-old son.


It was 2:00 in the morning on a dark cold and rainy night in 1983, while secretly crossing the border from Communist Yugoslavia to the western European country of Austria. Unfortunately, they were eventually spotted by Yugoslavian soldiers that aggressively pursued them with AK-47's, spotlights, and dogs. They were rapidly closing in since they were not hindered by carrying little children, as Peter and his wife were. The family's only chance at this time was to cross the border before the soldiers came close enough to use their weapons. Fortunately for the young family, the heavy rain was pouring down preventing the guard's lights from illuminating their bodies. The family managed to cross the border into freedom with only seconds to spare. After 2 1/2 months in a refugee camp in Austria, Peter and his family were sponsored by a church in North Dakota. Upon their arrival to America, they spoke no English, had $600 in their pocket, and all their worldly possessions were in their hands. Exactly one week later, Peter found his first job working for a local pig farmer for the minimum wage of $3.35 per hour. He continued advancing, eventually owning his own successful construction company a few years later.