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Petra Němcová, born on June 24th, 1979 in Karviná, Czechoslovakia is a Czech model, television host and philanthropist who founded and heads the Happy Hearts Fund, a 501C charitable foundation
Němcová was born in Karviná, Czechoslovakia, she grew up in Karviná in the Moravian–Silesian region with her sister Olga.
She was scouted on the streets of Prague by NEXT Model Management and after signing moved to Milan, Italy.
After winning the 1995 Czech Elite Model Look, she returned to Milan where her career began in earnest.
She has been featured in campaigns for: Benetton, Bulgari, Cartier, Clarins, Cortefiel, Dirk Bikkembergs, Fortunoff, Graff, Hewlett Packard/Intel, HS, Intimissimi, John Lewis, Lancaster, La Perla, La Senza, Maidenform, Max Factor, Pantene Pro-V, Passport, Playtex, Rampage, Schwarzkopf, Victoria's Secret, and Wild Orchid.
She has also appeared on the covers of Madame Figaro, Elle, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Flare, Vegas, Glamour, FHM and Sports Illustrated magazines.
During the years 2000 through 2004 she worked for designers Lolita Lempicka, Gai Mattiolo Erreuno, Matthew Williamson, Custo Barceloa, Blunauta, Dirk Bikkembergs, Gugliemo Cappone, Luciano soprani, Marina Babini, Yumi Katsura, Akadius, and Michino Koshino.
Němcová gained attention external to the fashion industry after featuring on the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue - shot in Barbados by Walter Iooss.
She also went on to appear in the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 editions.
In addition, Němcová was the subject of Joanne Gair's body painting work. In January 2015 Němcová replaced Abbey Clancy as the face of Ultimo underwear.
In 2001 Němcová appeared on a British television series Absolutely Fabulous.
On the 3rd of June in 2004, she was one of the telecast judges during the 53rd annual Miss Universe competition in Quito, Ecuador.
Then in 2007, she was the host of TLC's A Model Life. Petra co-produced “A Model Life with Petra Nemcova,” on TLC, where she served as a mentor and friend to the models, who were brought to New York and competed for potential contracts of a lifetime.
On the 7th of July in 2007 she was a presenter at the American leg of Live Earth.
She was a losing contestant on season 12 of Dancing with the Stars where her professional dance partner was Dmitry Chaplin.
In 2005 Němcová published her autobiography Love Always, Petra (ISBN 0446579130).
Němcová is multilingual and speaks Czech, Slovak, Polish, English, French, and Italian.
She was briefly engaged to English actor Jamie Belman and in May of 2014, Němcová told People Magazine that she is dating the former Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe - but as of 2015 they were no longer together.
On December 26th of 2004 Němcová was in Khao Lak, Thailand with her main photographer and then fiancé Simon Atlee when the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck.
Tragically, Simon Atlee drowned and Němcová suffered a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries.
She survived by managing to hold on to a palm tree for eight hours until she was rescued by Thai civilians and airlifted to a nearby inland hospital.
The following year in 2005 Němcová founded the Happy Hearts Fund (HHF) - a charitable organization and relief campaign formed after the Tsunami of 2004 in the Indian Ocean. She has also raised a lot of money to support the NGO founded by Sir Elton John.
Since its inception, Petra has been involved in the Happy Hearts Fund on a daily basis.
Her initial work in an executive capacity established the structure, vision and strategy that would position HHF for long-term success.
Petra has been the key motivation and drive behind the cause due to her personal experience with the 2004 Tsunami. This experience helps her understand and connect with those being helped by Happy Hearts Fund.
Petra has led HHF to benefit more than 50,000 children and 500,000 community members thus far. Globally, Happy Hearts Fund is active in nine countries and has built/rebuilt 108 schools and kindergartens.
Petra serves on the advisory board of the Somaly Mam Foundation and the Glamour’s Women of the Year Fund. Petra has received several accolades from many organizations for her philanthropic work including The United Nations, Women Together, Do Something and numerous other organizations.
It is one of the largest non-profit global HIV/AIDS organizations. It is supported by David Furnish and is dedicated to implementing HIV prevention programs in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with HIV.
In June 2012 she was designated by president of Haiti Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe as Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti for her work with Happy Hearts Fund.
Glamour magazine awarded Němcová a "Survivor Award" in 2005 for her charity work following her life-threatening tsunami experience.
Němcová currently graces campaigns and is a global brand ambassador for Chopard, Mercedes, Tumi and Level 99 Jeans. Her major break through was in 2003 as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover girl.
As a model, she has achieved international success, working with brands such as Max Factor, Pantene, Clarins, La Perla and Victoria Secret.
Němcová founded her charity, Happy Hearts Fund, in 2005 with a mission to rebuild safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters. Since its inception, she has been involved on a daily basis.
Her initial work in an executive capacity has helped establish the structure, vision, and strategy that positioned HHF for long-term success.
Němcová has been the key motivation and drive behind the cause of rebuilding schools for children forgotten after natural disasters due to lack of sustained response.
Her self-understanding of the power of Mother Nature helps her connect with those in need of aid, empowerment, and hope after their lives have been shattered - as she was very fortunate to have survived a near death experience in the 2004 Tsunami.
"We can’t control nature, but we can control the actions we take."
Němcová has led Happy Hearts Fund to benefit more than 50,000 children and 500,000 community members thus far.
Happy Hearts Fund has a presence in 10 countries: Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, United States, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, and Nepal. To date they have rebuilt 130 schools with more to come.
Němcová's entrepreneurial spirit came together in 2013 when she launched the international luxury home décor brand, Be The Light New York by Petra Nemcova (BTLNY) with co-founder and branding expert, Christian Hosford.
Inspired by her life of traveling to fascinating countries, BTLNY brings treasures from travels with elements of playful luxury to enrich homes and lives. 10% of all proceeds from BTLNY go to rebuilding schools with Happy Hearts Fund.
BE THE LIGHT NEW YORK by PETRA NEMCOVA is a home decór lifestyle brand that will take you on an exciting journey around the world to discover countries and their treasures.
"After more than a decade of intense travel, I've learned that every country has treasures which they are proud of and which help make up the rich tapestry of their culture and heritage."
The treasures can be a national flower, unique crafts and materials, a spice that is integral in people's lives, or ingredients that have left an indelible mark on the country's history."
BE THE LIGHT NEW YORK carefully selects these treasures from inspiring countries and delivers them to your home and life.
Němcová is also a renowned public speaker and the author of Love Always, Petra which she wrote to help children affected by the Tsunami with 100% of the proceeds being sent to support Thai children.
She serves on the advisory board of the acclaimed Glamour's Women of the Year Fund.
Petra has received several well-earned accolades from organizations for her philanthropic work including The United Nations, Women Together, Glamour Woman of the Year, and Do Something.
As a dancer, Petra appeared on a number of shows like Don't Know Why, Les Voicil Voici La Quadrille, Viva Las Vegas, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and many others.
She once said: "I can dance for, like, four or five hours nonstop without even drinking water. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing..."
In recounting the tragedy which almost took her life she says:
"It was a beautiful sunny day in Thailand. My partner, Simon Atlee, and I took a walk in the morning on the beach."
"We had just finished breakfast and went back to the bungalow to begin packing because we were planning to leave in two hours."
"In a matter of seconds life changed for us and for millions of other people. There was no warning. I looked up and heard people screaming. In seconds, the bungalow completely crashed."
"There was glass everywhere and we were trying to hold on for dear life - In that moment it didn't matter how strong we were."
"It didn't matter if I was a good swimmer. The power of nature was too strong for anyone."
"I must have had angels looking after me because otherwise there was really no chance that I could have survived."
"My pelvis was broken in four places and I almost drowned many many times so I thought for sure that I wouldn't be saved."
"After holding onto a palm tree for eight hours I was found by a Thai man who risked his life to save the lives of strangers. Another wave could have come any minute yet he chose, with unconditional love, to try to save others."
"From this experience the most painful part was not the physical pain. It was emotional pain from hearing children screaming for help when I was holding onto the palm tree."
"Because there was debris all around me and I was trapped I couldn't go and help them. Then after half an hour I couldn't hear their voices anymore which meant that they hadn't been able to hold on any longer."
"In that moment I didn't have a choice. I couldn't help them. Now I that I have survived I have the choice to help children who survive natural disasters but are often forgotten."
"That experience is what keeps me and the Happy Hearts Fund team driven. It is what made me decide that I had to do something."
"When I could walk again I went back to Thailand to see what the biggest need in the country was and what could have the biggest impact. It was during that trip that – for the first time in my life – I could see what happens after first responders leave."
"I could see that when they leave – all support leaves, and communities remain devastated. I have seen this occur in all of the countries where Happy Hearts Fund now works."
"This lack of support after first response means that children are without safe schools for four, six, or even more years. Six years is an entire primary school education. The ripple effects on these children's lives and the lives of their community and future generations is tremendous."
"To solve this problem I founded the non-profit Happy Hearts Fund. We are dedicated to rebuilding safe, resilient schools and to restoring hope and opportunity in the lives of children after natural disasters."
I've found that if instead of only supporting communities during first response we create a sustained response throughout their recovery by rebuilding schools - the ripple effects on children's emotional healing, their potential job opportunities, and the overall hopefulness of the community is incredible."
"These schools also revitalize the economy and help future generations in the community. On so many levels they gives the community a much needed energy boost and economic boost."
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