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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 25, 2006) – Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Simsbury’s John Bannon, a retired sixth grade teacher who started a program that delivers turkeys on Thanksgiving? Or Darien’s Karen Kaun, who used her savings to launch an international peace program? Or West Hartford’s Lauren Moynihan, who provides blankets to children with heart conditions?


These are just three of the five extraordinary Connecticut 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 Connecticut would you give a Volvo to? Representing Connecticut in this year’s Volvo for life Awards are:

  • John Bannon, of Simsbury, created a program in 1993 called the Turkey Fund project, which helps the poor and less fortunate by providing them with a turkey at Thanksgiving. During the rest of the year, the retired sixth grade teacher and WWII vet spends his time delivering Meals on Wheels and driving senior citizens around town on errands and to doctor’s appointments.
  • Oliver Barton, of Branford, a Yale graduate who started the New Haven Ecology Project, which includes Common Ground High School. The program is designed to intertwine environmental equity with a comprehensive education to achieve a more just community. Summer camps run by the program help students learn to appreciate and support the environment as they tackle 21st century educational challenges.
  • Amy Barzach, of West Hartford, founded a non-profit organization in 1996 called BoundlessPlaygrounds. Through the program, Barzach creates playgrounds where kids with or without disabilities can play and learn together. Since 1996, Amy has developed more than 100 Boundless Playgrounds in 21 states and Canada. Her ultimate goal is to create a Boundless Playground within reach of every child in North America.
  • Karen Kaun, of Darien, used her savings to launch an international peace program called the Peace Diaries in classrooms in 12 countries including Argentina, Chile, Israel and the United States. The program enables children everywhere—in tough inner-city neighborhoods, in the suburbs and in war torn nations—to connect and learn about each other through dialogue and essay writing on topics of culture, human rights, diversity, tolerance and peace. Students’ work is published on the Peace Diaries Web site and each student who participates receives a book of their collaborative work.
  • Lauren Moynihan, of West Hartford, joined a group called PatchWorx while she was being treated for a heart condition. PatchWorx, which serves chronically ill and disabled children, inspired Lauren to start a Web site called Blankets with Heart. Through the site, Lauren sends hand-made blankets, afghans and gifts to children who have heart-related diseases.


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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