Model Petra NÄ›mcovÃ¡ has truly earned the title of 'supermodel' - overcome a terrible tragedy and using her beauty to help those in need. Petra was born on June 24, 1979 in KarvinÃ¡, Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic. At the age of 16, she was discovered at a modeling talent search and turned her attention towards a career in modeling. As soon as she completed school, she began modeling full time and eventually moved to Paris. She was soon appearing in European ad campaigns for Max Factor, Lancaster & La Perla and appearing in runway shows for Valentino and Armani. Petra got her big break in the US when she was chosen to grace the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has gone on to model for Victoria's Secret and other designers. Tragedy struck on December 26, 2004 when Petra and her fiancÃ©, photographer Simon Atlee, were at a Thailand resort when the infamous tsunami that resulted from an earthquake in the Indian Ocean struck. Initially, Atlee was presumed missing, but his body was found and identified on March 3, 2005. During the tsunami, Petra was able to hang on to the top of a palm tree until she was rescued and airlifted to a hospital. She suffered a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries, spent three weeks in a Thai hospital, and then flew home to the Czech Republic, where she spent an additional three weeks in the hospital. Her heroism was recognized by Glamor magazine, which awarded her a 'Survivor Award' in 2005. She wrote an autobiography, Love Always, Petra, which was published in December of 2005 and went back to modeling, appearing in the 2006 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and the 2007 British FHM calendar as Miss May. She also hosted the TLC reality series A Model Life in 2007 and was romantically linked to singer James Blunt. In 2005, she founded the Happy Hearts Fund, a charity for disadvantaged children. Forget those people you see every year on the televised reality competition, Petra is a true survivor.
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