Maples, 52, was married to Trump from 1993 to 1999 and shares one child — daughter Tiffany Trump — with the businessman-turned-politician. In the time since she and her ex-husband split, the mother of one has focused her time and attention on humanitarian efforts, which includes her recently attending the Wonderful World Gala on Sept. 26 — the same night as the first presidential debate.
A source close to Maples tells PEOPLE that instead of traveling to the debate, “Marla attended the Wonderful World Gala (at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine) on Monday, Sept. 26 and the Heart of Forgiveness Reception in lower Manhattan Oct. 4” and added that “Louis Armstrong is close to Marla’s heart as she’s seen personally how music can heal.”
She also recently met with a survivor of Hiroshima and tells PEOPLE of the evening, “I was deeply moved by how Takashi used his pain and Samarai teachings of revenge, to instead share a message about the power of forgiveness … It’s so very inspiring to meet someone who’s faced one of the most critical issues of our time head on, and though it’s had catastrophic results for him personally, he’s retaliated by way of spreading peace.”
The Dancing with the Stars contestant, who competed on season 22, also credits the dancing reality competition series for helping her “focus” on her passions.
“I loved doing Dancing With the Stars — it gave me the chance to focus on my passion for performing, and since then I’ve worked on other passion projects like my recent work with Waves for Water through the empowering work of Life Source Retreats,” she tells PEOPLE. “I have also been able to take time with family and celebrate my little sister Danielle’s wedding in GA. Now that I’m back in NY, I love connecting with people of all backgrounds and walks of life who are bringing attention to important issues for local communities and the world.”
In April, Maples opened up to PEOPLE about her marriage and split from Trump. “I was never with him for his money. I wasn’t there for the glamorous life or the riches,” she revealed of being wed to her 70-year-old ex-husband.