On December 26, 2004, devastating tragedy struck Southeast Asia, when an undersea megathrust earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean, triggering a series of massive tsunamis along the coast. This day marks one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, and is something that the lucky survivors will carry with them for the rest of their lives. But if you ask supermodel and philanthropist Petra Nemcova, this burden has turned into more of a blessing. Nemcova survived the horrendous ordeal, and lived not only to tell the tale, but also to give back in a big way and help those affected by this disaster.
During the 2004 earthquake, Nemcova was vacationing with her main photographer and fiancé Simon Atlee in Thailand, when the tsumani struck. For eight grueling hours, Petra held on to a palm tree until she was rescued by Thai civilians and airlifted to a hospital where she was treated for a shattered pelvis and serious internal injuries. She was told she might never walk again. Atlee was presumed missing, and then later identified and pronounced dead. A few months after her near-death experience, Nemcova returned to Thailand and witnessed the aftermath of the tragedy, experiencing the period after first response and before government intervention. It was then that she was inspired to create the Happy Hearts Fund, a non-profit foundation dedicated to rebuilding schools and restoring hope and opportunity in the lives of children after natural disasters.
Petra has been known to lend her support to other charitable organizations that include the Redlight Children Campaign, the Somaly Mam Foundation, and the Yéle Haiti Foundation. She is no stranger to the charitybuzz auction block, having recently collaborated with us to host an online auction for the Happy Hearts Fund, and she is currently up for auction herself to benefit Tibet House, where she is giving one fan the chance to experience New York Fashion Week with her. Petra Nemcova has shown immense strength in the face of life-threatening adversity, finding purpose in the tragic outcome of an unpredictable disaster. Petra’s story, and her dedication to philanthropy have been nothing short of admirable, and she is the very essence of what it means to be a true doGOODER.
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