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


Vote for top heroes at; $1 million in financial contributions provided; winner receives Volvo car for life


IRVINE, Calif. (September 12, 2006) – Five extraordinary, everyday heroes from Florida have been named semi-finalists in the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards. Volvo is calling on the citizens of Florida and people coast-to-coast to visit now through Feb. 4, 2007 to view the 250 semi-finalist stories – five per state – and vote for the individual they feel is “America’s Greatest Hometown Hero.” 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 Florida would you give a Volvo to? Representing Florida in this year’s Volvo for life Awards are:

  • Cynthia McCauley, of Panama City, serves special needs children through her center , “Possibilities R Unlimited.” She has been serving special needs kids her entire life, having cared for her disabled sister since she was 18. For years, her community has had a waiting list for those who wish to be admitted to the county center for adults with disabilities. As such, all of the community’s recently graduated mentally handicapped students had nowhere to go to help them become productive citizens in the community. McCauley changed that by creating a work program for current special needs students to intern at local businesses so they may learn skills needed to become a intricate part of the work force.
  • Lisa Merlin, of Altamonte Springs, transformed a past of family violence, sexual abuse and drug addiction into a future for herself and hundreds of other women. Today she works miracles with two residential programs for women in need. As President and CEO of The Lisa Merlin House, Merlin and her husband, Bruce, are dedicated to providing a safe place for a new beginning to women aged sixteen and older who are actively recovering from alcohol and substance abuse. In November 2005, Merlin launched a women and children’s home for pregnant women and young mothers in the community. This second residential program transitions these women from barely surviving domestic violence and addiction to living a life that is both independent and self-sufficient.
  • For more than twenty years, Bill Precht, of Miami Lakes, has researched the world’s coral reefs, documenting their rise and decline throughout the world, especially in Jamaica and Belize. Every year, Precht takes time off to work pro-bono as a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem Program and traveling to Belize to further his research. His findings have led to the publication of dozens of ground- breaking, peer-reviewed articles in top scientific journals. His work on the effect of global warming on pandemic coral diseases and coral bleaching brought international focus to the problem.
  • On Christmas night 1990, Pamela Stack, of Miami, was stabbed, strangled, beaten and left for dead by her estranged husband. Upon her recovery, Stack has made it her life’s work to ensure that every woman has a safe home in which to live. Once a victim of domestic violence, Stack has become a fearless advocate for battered women and one of the country’s leading advocates for domestic violence victims. Hers is a mission without end: every nine seconds, someone commits an act of violence committed against a woman.
  • Bonnie Swanson, of Vero Beach, serves as principal in the Indian River County School system. She obtained a grant to develop a unique environmental program for her students. Through Swanson’s leadership, nine- and ten-year-olds purchased fourteen residential lots to create a nature reserve. The children raised $250,000 through grants, donations and by taking on various part-time jobs. Swanson and her students named their project, ”From Us…To You…Forever.”


Now through Feb. 4, individuals will be able to view these and other hero stories and vote for their top heroes at For one week only, Sept. 18-24, the five Florida heroes’ stories will be featured on the front page of the Web site, joining five heroes from Virginia. Each week during the voting period, heroes from two states will be featured heroes 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 Volvo and members of the celebrity-judging panel will honor them at the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards Ceremony. At the climax of the ceremony, Volvo will reveal which of the three top heroes is also the Grand Award winner of a Volvo vehicle every three years for the rest of his or her life.


“Over the past five years the Volvo for life Awards initiative 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. Having the public help us select the winning heroes is a truly exciting – and democratic – addition to this year’s program.”


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


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Kim McMartin,

Haberman & Associates,



Sören Johansson,

Volvo Cars of North America,



For photos and more information on the Volvo for life Awards visit

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