ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Charles man known for helping thousands of Ukrainian children get adopted in the United States, died fighting for his home country.
For 25 years, Serge Zevlever helped more than 3,500 children in his home country of Ukraine get adopted here in the United States.
On social media, families he's helped from all over the country showed outpouring support, saying this tragedy is an extreme loss in the adoption world.
He specialized in finding homes for Ukrainian children with Down Syndrome, other special needs and teenagers.
He founded a nonprofit called LifeLine Hosting in 2019.
Every winter and summer, he would bring dozens of Ukrainian children to the U.S. to be hosted by American families for a cultural experience with hopes of leading to adoption.
He stayed in Ukraine after bringing 38 Ukrainian orphans back to their home country from their winter hosting in January.
Judy Wolff, who helps run the nonprofit and worked with Zevlever to adopt her three Ukrainian children, shared her reaction when she found out her friend was gone.
"I just screamed. I could not talk. No words came out. I could not process it. I just couldn't believe it that somebody's been shot for no reason, why? He didn't deserve this, and then his wife saw it happen. How is this fair? How can somebody that does so much good can be taken for such a horrifying reason?" Wolff said.
Zevlever has a house in St. Charles with his wife, but most of his work was done outside of St. Louis.
Wolff said Zevelver's son Valentine is now fighting for Ukraine.
The last time Wolff heard from Zevlever's wife Maryna, she told Wolff that she was still in their apartment in Kyiv.