Malibu is a world away from her native land, but that hasn’t stopped Bui Simon from helping those back at home. The former beauty queen and Pepperdine University graduate runs the Angels Wings Foundation, which helps underprivileged children throughout Thailand.
Whether she’s comforting tsunami orphans in Bangkok or meeting with survivors of child trafficking at the Bansari Surat Shelter, Simon has seen the need and heard the stories firsthand. From donations of basic supplies and building materials, to health care and educational programs, Angels Wings has made a difference in small lives.
The organization was founded in 2002 with a mission to build and fund schools and orphanages. Following the 2004 tsunami, Angels Wings built one hundred new homes and a fleet of boats ad helped give children a safe haven.
The main goal is to “empower through education” and, Simon said,the rewards have been endless. The organization has given out several scholarships and is spearheading a new program for rural students who aspire to become hometown teachers.
“It gives me a profound sense of purpose and great fulfillment to help support underprivileged children of Thailand,” she said. “Our basic premise is that every child is an Angel and deserves wings to fly.”
Simon, who was crowned Miss Universe in 1988, also served as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations and has been a spokeswoman for UNICEF. She lives with her husband Indiana Pacers owner Herbert Simon and their five children. Earlier this year she was elected to Pepperdine’s Board of Regents.