Fight for Education 2016 Gala Highlights
Happy Hearts Fund held its annual Fight for Education gala at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday, June 16, 2016, raising significant funds to support the organization’s mission of rebuilding schools impacted by natural disasters. Leaders from finance, fashion and sports gathered for the event hosted by Petra Nemcova, supermodel and founder of Happy Hearts Fund.
Ms. Nemcova kicked off the event with a video highlighting Happy Hearts Fund’s work in Nepal. In April 2015 a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck, devastating communities across the country and leveling entire villages. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the quake killed more than 8,000 people and injured over 21,000. An estimated 16,000 schools were destroyed, affecting children and communities throughout Nepal. Happy Hearts Fund has responded to the devastation with the rebuilding of schools at seven sites, bringing hope to children and families who have suffered tremendous loss.
The video served as inspiration for the evening’s program, which featured several amateur fights between finance professionals representing Black Rock, Deutsche Bank and Oppenheimer, among others. Fighters trained for several months leading up to the event, garnering support from their network and advocating for Happy Hearts Fund along the way.
In one of the many surprises for guests that evening, models Arlenis Sosa and Hind Salhi fought in a boxing exhibition. Mrs. Sosa described her passion for education and her support of Happy Hearts Fund saying, “Education to me is the most important gift that a child can have, helping them step into a brighter future.”
Following Mrs. Sosa and Ms. Sahli, professional fighters Julio Arce and Nick Pace took to the ring for the main event, an exhibition sponsored by premier martial arts academy Tiger Schulmann’s.
For the final fight, Ms. Nemcova joined comedian and actor Dane Cook for a surprise sketch, culminating in a food fight. Wrapping up the program, she reminded guests of the reason for coming together: “This evening is not only a celebration,” she said. “We are here for the children around the world who suffered so much after natural disasters and are currently waiting to get back to safe, resilient schools. Tonight’s gala will allow us to change this reality.”
Hedge fund manager and benefit committee member Tina Lindstrom added to Ms. Nemcova’s statement. “The Happy Hearts Fund mission to rebuild schools is so important to me as a mother of two boys in elementary school. I can’t imagine them being out of school for even a week, much less four to six years without the help of the charity.” Ms. Lindstrom, who boxed in the For for Education 2015 gala added, “I fought in the ring last year for the kids and I will fight every day to help rebuild safe schools.”
The fighters trained for several months leading up to the event, garnering support from their network and advocating for Happy Hearts Fund along the way. We can’t thank enough all of the fighters for their incredible dedication, time and support.
Special guests included actors Dane Cook and Tony Hale; models Arlenis Sosa, Hind Sahli, Lais Ribeiro, Cris Urena, Constance Jablonski, Aida and Leva Anuilyte, Bruna Tenorio, and Eniko Mihalik; designers Vivienne Tam and Thomas Hayo; basketball players Donnie McGrath and Jared Homan; UFC fighters Anthony and Sergio Pettis, Aljamain Sterling, Yoel Romero, Jorge Masvidal, Lyman Good, and Jimmie Rivera.
Sponsors included ReedSmith, United Airlines, Veritas Capital and Tiger Schulmann.
Photos: Scott Heins and Mike Sapia