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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 21, 2006) – Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Newark’s Fay Whittle, who has worked as a volunteer with Prison Ministries throughout the state of Delaware for almost three decades? Or Eileen Coleman, of Newark, a mother of five who works tirelessly to improve chances for all children to overcome autism? Or Nina McGonegal, a Claymont native who has dedicated herself to helping children and the grandparents who raise them?


These are just three of the five extraordinary Delaware heroes named as semi-finalists in the 5th Anniversary Volvo for life Awards – Volvo’s annual search for hometown heroes across America. This year, in honor of the Awards’ 5th anniversary, Volvo selected the top five heroes from every state in America and is asking the American public to visit to vote for their favorites now through February 4, 2007.


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

  • Eileen Coleman, of Newark, a mother of five (two whom are autistic) who has worked tirelessly to improve the chances for all children to overcome autism. Based upon her own experience with her autistic children, Eileen started a non-profit foundation, Heal Autism Now Delaware (HAND Foundation) to help provide financial assistance and information to parents of autistic children. Through the HAND Foundation, these parents can learn to educate their autistic children at innovative institutions.
  • Nina McGonegal, of Claymont, is dedicated to helping children and the grandparents who raise them. In 2003, she formed a nonprofit organization, GrandParents United DE, Inc. The grassroots organization made up of grandparents and other family caregivers, is a network of supporters and sponsors that strive to fulfill the program’s mission - to "educate, direct, guide and support any grandparent or relative who seeks to save a child from the trauma of being placed in the foster care system."
  • Beth Thomas, of Newark, works with at-risk high school students. The program at Newark High school provides mentoring services for special education students enrolled in college prep classes. Thomas works hard to ensure the students have every chance at success. She calls what she and her colleagues do, “Mentoring on Mega-vitamins.”
  • Fay Whittle, of Newark, works as a volunteer with Prison Ministries throughout the state of Delaware for almost three decades. She created the non-profit, Prison Ministries of Delaware, to complement the work of the group, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Prison Ministries of Delaware provides emergency services to crime victims, ex-offenders and their families. Helping inmates and ex-offenders transition to productive roles in society has become Whittle’s life’s work. She spends six to ten hours per day assisting prison inmates, ex-offenders and their families find the resources and the support networks to help them reenter their communities with the real chance of success.
  • Peter McCarthy, of Newark, volunteers at two hospitals each week: A. I. Du Pont Hospital for Children and Christiana Hospital. He began his volunteer work after a severe car accident in 1991. Following recovery, McCarthy decided he wanted to give something back to the hospitals that had provided for his recovery. He has an extraordinary ability to engage the patients, many of whom require extensive hospitalizations and advanced treatments. Peter is known for kindness, a gentle sense of humor and how special he makes the patients feel.


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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Carol Schuler,

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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