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VOTE FOR MICHIGAN’S GREATEST HOMETOWN HEROES

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

National vote underway for all-time greatest heroes – five per state - in 5th Anniversary Volvo for life Awards

 

Vote for top hero at www.volvoforlifeawards.com; $1 million in financial contributions provided; winner receives Volvo car for life

 

IRVINE, Calif. (August 17, 2006) - Five extraordinary, everyday heroes from Michigan have been named semi-finalists in the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards. Volvo is calling on the citizens of Michigan and people coast-to-coast to visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com now through Feb. 4, 2007 to view the 250 semi-finalist stories – five per state – and vote for the individuals they feel are “America’s Greatest Hometown Heroes.” The overall grand winner will receive a $50,000 charitable contribution and a new Volvo every three years for the rest of his or her life.

 

Who in Michigan would you give a Volvo to? Representing Michigan in this year’s Volvo for life Awards are:

  • Jack Fowler, a Mayville special-ed teacher who started a non-profit outdoor recreation center that, each year, serves over 4,200 special needs adults and children;
  • Rev. Faith Fowler of Detroit who conducts a variety of programs that benefit the homeless, mentally ill and mentally impaired;
  • Carolyn Grammicchia, a Shelby Township police officer, who founded an organization that educates first responders on helping those with special needs;
  • Jarrett Patterson, a Hudson, Michigan student who started a local clothing donation site for needy children called “Kid’s Closet”; and,
  • Daniel Weiss, an Ann Arbor man who has founded two organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in impoverished regions around the globe.

 

Now through Feb. 4, individuals will be able to view these and other hero stories and vote for their top heroes at www.volvoforlifeawards.com. For one week only, August 14 – 20, the five Michigan heroes’ stories will be featured on the front page of the www.volvoforlifeawards.com Web site, joining five heroes from Alabama. Each week during the voting period, heroes from two states - 5 per state; 10 total - will be featured on the front of the Web site, though individuals can view and vote on their state or any other state’s hero stories within the site at any time.

 

Once the public vote concludes, the top three vote-getters in the categories of safety, quality of life and environment will be named finalists. Then, a panel of distinguished judges – including Hank Aaron, Sen. Bill Bradley, Caroline Kennedy, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Dr. Sally Ride, Val Kilmer, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and previous Volvo for life Awards top winners – will select winners in each category. Winners receive a $50,000 charitable contribution from Volvo; remaining finalists receive a $25,000 contribution.

 

On April 4, 2007, Volvo will fly the winning heroes to New York, where they will be honored at the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards Ceremony by Volvo and members of the celebrity judging panel. At the climax of the ceremony, Volvo will reveal which of the three top heroes is also the winner of the Grand Award of a Volvo for life – a lease on a new Volvo every three years for the rest of his or her life.

 

“Over the past five years the Volvo for life Awards has received more than 15,000 hero nominations,” said Anne Bélec, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars of North America. “All of these heroes demonstrate incredible conscience, care and character. We felt the proper way to mark the fifth year of the Volvo for life Awards would be to highlight the top five heroes from every state in America. Having the public help us select the winning heroes is a truly exciting – and democratic – addition to this year’s program. We look forward to discovering just who ‘America’s greatest hometown hero’ will be.”

 

More About the Five Michigan Semifinalists

Jack (John) Fowler - Mayville, Michigan

 

In 1957, special education teacher Jack (John) Fowler was frustrated with the lack of outdoor recreational opportunities for youth with disabilities. So was his wife, Reta (now deceased). Together, they decided to do something about it – by starting a non-profit camp called the Fowler Center. Over the years, the Fowler Center has developed into a year-round center available to youth and adults with special needs such as mental and physical challenges and brain injuries. The camp began by serving nine boys from Detroit with mental disabilities. However, the need was so great that the Fowlers continued working and expanding the camp. Today, it serves over 4,200 campers each year, providing access to the outdoors in a safe, comfortable, loving environment that fosters a sense of accomplishment, independence and increased self-esteem. To learn more about Fowler and his cause, and how you can make a difference, please visit: www.thefowlercenter.org

 

Rev. Faith Fowler - Detroit, Michigan

 

Imagine a beauty pageant for mentally impaired adults who've never otherwise been cheered, or a Christmas party for homeless kids. Those are only a few of the programs Rev. Fowler conducts, which serve, elevate and celebrate the least-acknowledged members of society -- the homeless, mentally impaired and mentally ill. Rev. Fowler attends to her followers’ pastoral needs in a marginalized neighborhood. Yet, she finds the time and the will to address the needs for connection and inclusion on the part of the forgotten among the already most vulnerable of our communities. It's all above and beyond the call of simply running an inner-city church. But Fowler works on, well, her faith. The results are inspired as they are inspiring: imagine traveling by van to Washington, D.C., with a choir of formerly homeless, mentally ill men, experiencing their camaraderie, and then hearing the beautiful music they produce. The moment generates not only pride in those who had once none, but also faith and hope -- for them and the audience. To learn more about Cass Community Social Services, and how you can make a difference, please visit: www.casscommunity.org.

 

Carolyn Gammicchia - Shelby Township, Michigan

 

As a police officer with over twenty years in the field, Carolyn Gammicchia has observed many situations where officers encountered individuals with mental illness and hidden disabilities. However, due to a lack of education and training on the part of the officers, the desired outcomes did not often result, either for the police, or the individuals involved. Having witnessed many such encounters growing up with a brother who had epilepsy – a brother often arrested when officers did not recognize his “unusual” behavior as the result of him experiencing a seizure – Gammicchia knew that she had to do something to change the system. In 2002, Officer Gammicchia and her husband Andrew, also an officer, formed the organization, The Law Enforcement Awareness Network (L.E.A.N. On Us). The organization has developed materials, delivered trainings, and provided information and resources not only to first responders, but also to community members as well. With this knowledge, both parties can work together for the best outcomes within our communities. To learn more about Gammicchia and her cause, and how you can make a difference, please visit: www.leanonus.org

 

Jarrett Patterson - Hudson, Michigan

 

When Jarrett Patterson’s mother was gathering up used clothes, Patterson asked her why she took their outgrown clothes to another city 25 miles away. According to Patterson, students at his school could have used the clothes. Poorer students often wore the same clothes every day, since their families could not afford to buy new ones. Patterson researched the places in our county at which families could get used clothing; all of them were at least 25 miles away. As a solution, Patterson decided to open what he named the "Kids Closet." Kids Closet provides a place to collect used clothes for needy kids. Patterson’s program has collected items available in a wide range of sizes and styles, suitable for the infant to the high school student. School personnel (counselors, teachers, principals, or anyone who sees a need) contact Patterson; he then goes to the closet for the required clothing. Patterson never knows the student's name, only his or her size and sex. The student never knows who goes to the closet for him or her. The student can try on the clothes and keep whatever he or she likes. Patterson feels it is important for students to have a sense of dignity and belonging, a chance to feel like they are equals to their fellow students.

 

Daniel Weiss - Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

In 1994, Daniel Weiss founded Amizade, a nonprofit providing community service in more than 10 program sites in South America, Africa, and around the globe. Amizade works with community based organizations on service projects that have included building a vocational training center for street children, a health clinic, an orphanage, a hospital, an orthopedic workshop and a nursing home. Amizade volunteers have also tutored children, drilled fresh water wells, and renovated historic buildings. In 1999, Weiss co-founded the Amazon-Africa Aid Organization (3AO) dedicated to providing technical and financial support to impoverished regions. Through 3AO and Amizade, Weiss has improved the quality of life for thousands of people. To learn more about Weiss and his cause, and how you can make a difference, please visit: www.www.amizade.org.

 

To learn more, or to vote for your favorite hero, visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com. A Spanish version of the site can also be accessed at this address.

 

# # #

Contact:

Alex Seitz,

Haberman & Associates,

612-372-6471,

alex@habermaninc.com

 

Sören Johansson,

Volvo Cars of North America,

949-341-6719,

sjohan44@volvocars.com

 

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