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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. (October 9, 2006) – Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Ritu Primlani from Oakland who helps ethnic restaurant owners control environmental waste? Or Eva Payne from Santa Clarita who started Camp Kindle for children living with HIV and AIDS? Or Robina Suwol from Van Nuys who helped change school pesticide policy after watching her sons walk to school through a toxic cloud of pesticides?


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

  • Ritu Primlani from Oakland founded Thimmakka Certified Green Restaurants to help restaurant owners in the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, Fla., and Vancouver, B.C. implement environment-friendly practices to control the tremendous amount of waste in their industry. As well as saving more than 140 owners close to a total of $900,000, it is estimated that the program has helped divert thousands of tons of solid waste from landfills, saved more than 10,000 gallons of water and conserved nearly one million Kilowatt hours of energy.
  • Eva Payne from Santa Clarita tirelessly devotes her time to Camp Kindle, a non-profit summer camp she started for children ages seven to fifteen who are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Camp Kindle has given hundreds of children the chance to be accepted, find hope and friendship and learn about wellness and personal strengths. Campers also help educate thousands of high school and college students about HIV and AIDS by sharing their stories through the national speaker program, SPEAK OUT.
  • Juan Jimenez from Los Angeles, a former gang member, founded a non-profit organization to help steer youth away from gangs and drug abuse. Even a stroke and persistent illnesses haven’t stopped Jimenez. In more than 20 years his dedication to his community and getting kids on the right track has never wavered.
  • Robina Suwol from Van Nuys founded California Safe Schools after watching her sons walk to school through a toxic cloud of pesticides being sprayed on school grounds. Her mobilization of parents, physicians, environmentalists, school staff and management, community members, and the county health department resulted in an Integrated Pest Management Policy (IPM). The policy serves to reduce or eliminate the school district’s use of dangerous pesticides in favor of mechanical, biological, or low-toxicity products to eliminate pests and weeds. Today, the IPM policy that Robina helped bring about serves as a national model.
  • Jane Williams from Rosamond serves as the executive director of California Communities Against Toxics (CCAT), a network of local environmental justice groups that works to protect communities from industrial pollutants. She has helped dozens of communities successfully unite to fight the building of incinerators, landfills, nuclear waste dumps and industrial plants. Williams also helped establish the National Disease Cluster Alliance, which seeks to help communities investigate cancer clusters in children, as well as other grave health problems caused in part or in full by environmental degradation.
  • 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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