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COLD HEAT NEWS » Featured Article, Health & Beauty, People, Philantrophy » Mrs. World at the Ends of the Earth

Mrs. World at the Ends of the Earth

Triumphs are so often built on tragedies.  One of the most visible public figures I know has a visual impairment.  Said to be the world’s loveliest married woman, she spends most of her time working for those blind to all but her inner beauty.

Honduras native April Lufriu of Tampa entered the Mrs. Florida, Mrs. America, and Mrs. World pageants when she and her two children were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa  (RP).  After winning all three titles, she has used her international celebrity to raise awareness of RP and other genetic blinding conditions on behalf of Foundation Fighting Blindness in Maryland.

Mrs. World was off and running with a full slate of ceremonial functions shortly after she won her final crown in December 2011.  At the end of March she joined several Asian Mrs. World contestants in China for a week-long cultural tour.  The grand finale was a fashion show and singing performance held to raise funds for a local cancer charity.”The sisterhood of the Mrs. World delegates is unprecedented,” Lufriu remarks.  “In China we bonded as a family.  Even though we could not communicate effectively, our love for each other spoke louder than words despite our cultural differences.  This should be an example to ALL in this world.  We embraced and united with such love and respect to help others in need.  It was one of the most beautiful and memorable experiences of my life.”

Guided by her own personal vision, Lufriu has already left the Sunshine State down South many times for the colder Northern climes of New York City, Chicago, and Minneapolis.  She wants to visit Southern California later this year as winter approaches and her twelve-month Mrs. World term draws to a close.

April’s emerging fund raising and speaking skills seem to grow with each Mrs. World engagement.  She has netted over $250,000 at once for the FFB coffers.  The shyness of youth has evolved into notable sensitivity and seriousness of purpose.

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities.  But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates its own talents,” says renowned American social writer Eric Hoffer.  Mrs. World has indeed leveraged strong desire to develop new talents in service of the sightless.  The eyes of the world continue to watch her in awe.

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Dr. Laura Wilhelm was born in Philadelphia, PA on May 17, 1965. Her family lived briefly in Palo Alto and Oakland, CA before settling in San Diego when Laura was 10. In 1988 Laura graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed College in Portland, OR with a major in Russian and minor in Classics. She received her doctorate in Russian language and literature with honors from the U of Kansas in 1994 before relocating to Los Angeles with her husband, Christopher. Laura belongs to Dobro Slovo, the national Slavic honor society. Laura received much recognition for her work with the City of West Hollywood's Russian-speaking immigrant community before moving on to an eclectic teaching and consulting career in the Greater Los Angeles area. Since May 2009 Laura has run an award-winning business and talent development company called LauraWil Intercultural. Her associates comprise major international names in the arts, entertainment, fashion, literature, and science. Laura is a member of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and sits on several of their committees. In West Hollywood she has helped to develop and promote programming for major world events such as Fashion's Night Out sponsored by VOGUE Magazine. In 2011 Laura's company was nominated for a WHCC Creative City Award (Category: Creative Communications). In January 2012 Laura was appointed CEO for a youth oriented online media company called vrmedia based in Washington, DC that has quickly formed networks up and down the East and West Coasts. At around the same time she started collaborating on charity fund raising for the Foundation Fighting Blindness with celebrated beauty pageant winner April Lufriu (Mrs. Florida, Mrs. America, and Mrs. World). Laura works with many other charities such as Finding Freedom International, Pals Around the World, and We Care For the World. She has been invited to serve on the Board of Directors for Designers 4 Africa, whose clientele includes A-list celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Gisele Bundchen. Laura's Los Angeles company is running an ongoing bi-cultural RUNGLISH book promotion whose author Nina Naydenova is allied with renowned Russian luminaries such as tenor Nikolai Baskov and Oksana Fedorova, Russia's only Miss Universe to date. vrmedia plans to carry a definitive annotated translation of Leo Tolstoy's classic autobiography CHILDOOD-BOYHOOD-YOUTH as well as many other world masterpieces through Penguin Classics. As Los Angeles Chair Laura reviews fashion events for Emerging Global Designers. She also writes regular features on cultural topics for COLD HEAT NEWS and HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY. She has appeared live on KNBSTV.COM and Global TV. In graduate school Laura worked and studied in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. She and her husband have visited Greece and led two successful Explorica tours of Italy for students from Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA. Laura is active with the American-Russian Business Council, the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Sister Cities. Recently she was designated Russian Ambassador for the multicultural 2012 Global Independence Day awards event at the Beverly Hilton. She has listings in numerous WHO'S WHO, American Biographical Institute, and International Biographical Centre publications.

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