Via Foundation honored people and firms for giving back

For the twenty-second year in a row, Via Foundation presented the Via Bona Awards to people and firms which are giving back to their communities. The winners were chosen by the public through online voting. Via Foundation presented the awards at a gala evening held at the Bio Oko cinema in Prague on May 22, 2019. Awards were presented in four main categories – Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drive, Good Company, Personal Engagement and Young Personal Engagement – and a new Good Neighborhood award was presented as well. The award ceremony took place during “Neighborly Week”, an initiative which Via Foundation debuted this year.

In recent years Via Foundation has increasingly supported community philanthropy. Accordingly, the motto of the 2019 awards was vibrant communities. “To counter the apathy, resignation, indifference and distrust that often seem to prevail in society, we highlighted people and companies that are giving back to their communities in diverse ways, whether in their immediate neighborhoods, regions or the Czech Republic as a whole,”explained Zdeněk Mihalco, Program Director at Via Foundation.

To reflect this focus on doing good in one’s own community, the Good Company award recognized small and mid-sized companies and entrepreneurs which donate a share of their profits in their own region. The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drive award, which Via Foundation presented for the first time, recognized people engaging their friends and acquaintances in fundraising for worthy causes. “The number of nominations we received in this category show that fundraising drives are becoming increasingly popular. They depend on the fundraiser’s ability to motivate friends and family to help and to use information technologies in a positive way,”added Zdeněk Mihalco.

Via Foundation received a total of 120 nominations from across the entire country. An independent jury selected 12 finalists, from which the public chose the winners. In addition, Via Foundation presented the special Good Neighborhood Award based on voting by staff.

The Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drive award went to Ondřej Šimetka, Head Physician at the Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Hospital Ostrava. Ondřej has raised over CZK 300,000 for Doctors without Borders through peer-to-peer fundraising in extreme sporting events. The Good Company Award went to Vincentkamineral water company for the broad range of financial and non-financial support it provides to the Luhačovice region. Martina Seidlerováwon the Personal Engagement Award for her efforts to revitalize her hometown Jesenik and the Young Personal Engagement Award for 2019 went to Patrik Zadina, whose volunteer work with children reflects his own personal experience in a children’s home. Via Foundation bestowed the special Good Neighborhood Award on Eva Lehotská for her unflagging help to the marginalized settlement ofBedřiška.

The main partners of the 2019 Via Bona Awards are Kooperativa Insurance Company corporate foundation, PwC Česká republikaand Tchibo. The Award patrons are Hana and Dalimil Dvořák and Věra Výtvarová. The main media partners are Czech Television, Czech Radio and the web server Aktuálně.cz. The 22ndVia Bona Awards were held under the auspices of the US Embassy in the Czech Republic, as they have been since their inception.


The 2019 Via Bona Award winners

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drive – Ondřej Šimetka

Three years ago Ondřej Šimetka organized his first fundraising drive when he ran in the New York marathon. He raised CZK 180,000 for Doctors without Borders. For his second fundraising drive, he took part in an extreme cycling race across East Timor, where he raised another CZK 131,800 for Doctors without Borders.

Good Company – Vincentka

The Vincentka mineral water company is a vital source of assistance for its native region of Luhačovice. Charitable giving has been a firm part of the company culture since its founding in 1998. Each year Vincentka supports a broad range of local cultural and social events. The total value of Vincentka’s financial and non-financial gifts is around CZK 500,000 per year.

Personal Engagement – Martina Seidlerová

For the past six years, Martina Seidlerova has been organizing community events in her hometown of Jeseník to make it a more vibrant place to live and to draw out residents’ enthusiasm, talents and courage. Martina organizes farmers’ markets, festivals and discussion forums and is also revitalizing an open-air cinema and park. Martin co-founded the association Sudetikus, which means “a piece of the Sudetenland”, as the entity through which events are organized.

Young Personal Engagement – Patrik Zadina

When Patrik moved out of the children’s home where he had spent his formative years and ventured out into the world, he got a lot of help from other people during the transition. Now it is Patrik who is helping others. He volunteers his time to teach children at the home to ski and ride a bike and to share his experience and advice. Patrik visits the children’s home regularly, spending Christmas or weekends there. Moreover, he has motivated some of his co-workers and other adults who grew up in the home to give back.

Good Neighborhood Award– Eva Lehotská

The settlement of Bedřiška near Ostrava has a recent history of problems with local authorities and troubles between residents. Nonetheless, Eva Lehotská is transforming this marginalized locality into a place where neighbors live side by side without conflict. There are now 26 families living in Bedřiška, which is a total of about 100 residents. Thanks to Eva’s long-standing work the community is becoming something seldom seen: a place where Romani and non-Romani live together in peace.

(For additional texts about the award-winners in Czech, please see