Hope Dworacyzk has been a runway model, a Playboy Playmate and a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, where she won $40,000 for her favorite charity, Best Buddies. The nonprofit organization promotes a volunteer movement that creates one-to-one friendships, employment and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual and development disabilities.
ABILITY’s Chet Cooper recently caught up with Dworacyzk in Los Angeles.
Cooper: How did you learn out about Best Buddies?
Dworacyzk: From Maria Shriver who invited me to a lot of their fund-raising bike rides. She and I first met at an event at Hearst castle (in San Simeon, CA) and then, about three years ago, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots led one of the rides. It was 100 miles, and went from Boston to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, MA. I took part in it, and had a really great time that weekend hanging out with a lot of different kids, and people my age, too.
Cooper: Older kids?
Dworacyzk: Yes, and I asked if I could have a buddy.
Cooper: Did a lot of people raise their hands?
Dworacyzk: (laughs) When I got back to Los Angeles, I called the local Best Buddies. I was matched with a young woman named Caroline, and we became friends. She’s now 25, and we go to trendy restaurants, get our nails done and go to the spa.
I like that Best Buddies is about creating one-on-one friendships between two people. They help participants with their education, so they can find work. With education and jobs, many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live independently. It’s a beautiful program. Caroline has a job assembling handcuffs.
Cooper: I think Special Olympics has a “How to Get Out of Handcuffs” event.
Dworacyzk: (laughs) When I learned what Caroline does, I found it really amusing. I said, “Are you kidding me?” At one time she packaged candy corn. What she does changes a lot, but right now she makes handcuffs. I should ask for some. (laughs)
Cooper: Let’s talk about your handcuff fetish.
Dworacyzk: (laughs) I was just kidding.
Cooper: Aside from Best Buddies, are there any other nonprofits that you’ve worked with?
Dworacyzk: Not to this degree. I’ve taken part in different activities, like walks for breast cancer research. But, as you know, Best Buddies is the charity I raised money for when I was on Celebrity Apprentice, and after I won the $40,000, I got to present the check to Caroline. But I had to tell her, “This is not for you.” (laughter) I had to make sure I said that when I showed it to her, because I surprised her with it. Luckily she understood.
Cooper: Tell me more about your experience on Celebrity Apprentice.
Dworacyzk: The hours were crazy. I would leave my suite at 4 in the morning to go to hair and makeup to start my day, and I wouldn’t get back until 11:30 at night. So I had only four-and-a-half hours to wind down, sleep and be ready for the next day.
Cooper: How long were you on that schedule?
Dworacyzk: Seven days the first week, and then after that six days a week. I lasted until the ninth episode.
Cooper: How many episodes are in a full season?
Cooper: So Donald Trump didn’t fire you until almost the end. How did you win the money for Best Buddies?
Dworacyzk: You win money when you’re project manager and your team wins a business task. There are also other times throughout the show when you have an opportunity to win money.
I was project manager of an Omaha Steaks task. Because I don’t eat steak, Donald Trump asked me on-camera, “Are you excited about your task?” I said, “Yeah, but I know nothing about it.” Fortunately, we ended up winning anyway.
Cooper: Was this the season with Meatloaf?
Cooper: Wasn’t it controversial because Meatloaf got upset about something?
Dworacyzk: He’s very emotional, and he and Gary Busey were really going at each other. I forget which charity Meatloaf played for, but it was a good one.
Cooper: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?
Dworacyzk: (laughs) No, I believe it was The Painted Turtle; they have a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses.
Cooper: Do you think the battle between Meatloaf and Gary was real?
Dworacyzk: It was. When you put all these different personalities together, and so many of them have huge egos, it can get really heated. Like, I ordered my food before she ordered hers, how did she get hers first? But there were other people, like [former model] Niki Taylor, for instance, who were great. She played for the American Red Cross.
Cooper: We were supposed to interview Gary Busey. I briefly spoke to him about his motorcycle accident, and his views on whether to wear a helmet or not. Did he ever talk about that?
Dworacyzk: Only every day. (laughs) He would tell anybody who walked in the building, “See, I was in this motorcycle crash…”
He has no sense of personal space. He would be talking and get so close that our noses would touch. I had to say, “Gary, you’ve got to back up.”
Cooper: So if you don’t eat Omaha Steak, does that mean you’re a vegetarian?
Dworacyzk: I eat fish, but not red meat.
Cooper: Do you work out?
Dworacyzk: Every day; I do Pilates.
Cooper: Do you travel much?
Dworacyzk: It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m working in New York, I may stay there for two weeks, or I’ll go back and forth.
Cooper: How often do you and Caroline get together?
Dworacyzk: I see her one day a month.
Cooper: Who calls whom?
Dworacyzk: She can call me any time, but normally I’ll call her and see what her schedule’s like, and if I can see her the following week.
Cooper: Do you guys email?
Dworacyzk: I call. She texts. No emails.
Cooper: Did you come up with the one-day-a-month schedule?
Dworacyzk: No, we just get together whenever we can. It depends on when I’m in town, and when she’s not working. It might be twice one month, and then the next month I might not see her, and then the following month I might see her three times. It just depends on what’s going on. She has a boyfriend now, so she spends time with him, as well.
Cooper: It would be fun if you could ask her if she’d talk with us to round out the article, and see how she likes hanging out with you.
Dworacyzk: I think that would be good. She’s very funny and smiley and cute.
Cooper: What’s on your bucket list?
Dworacyzk: I was just thinking about that last night. I have a cousin who–
Cooper: –makes buckets.
Dworacyzk: —(smiles) not quite. He’s been fighting a rare form of mouth cancer for the last couple of years. He never smoked or dipped [chewed tobacco], but he’s got cancer, anyway. He’s had a couple rounds of chemo and radiation, and the doctors don’t think that there’s .…. continued in ABILITY Magazine PDF version