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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 23, 2006) - Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Ron Bell from Milton, who founded Dunk the Vote, a nonprofit, non-partisan voter organization to engage young people to exercise their right to vote? Or Brittany Bergquist of Norwell and her brother Robbie, who started Cell Phones for Soldiers to raise money to buy prepaid calling cards for soldiers serving overseas? Or Kevin Monahan from Dorchester whose nonprofit organization, Collaborations for Achieving School Excellence and Success (CASES), helped the Murphy School reach the top five percent of Boston schools in reading and math?


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

  • Ron Bell from Milton who founded Dunk the Vote, a nonprofit, non-partisan voter registration and citizen participation organization to engage young people to exercise their right to vote. In the past 17 years, Dunk the Vote has registered more than 35,000 new voters. In the 2000 election, Boston was one of a few cities in the United States that showed an increase rather than a decline in African-American and Latino voting. Over the past five years, Boston was the only major U.S. city where voter turnout has increased consecutively.
  • In April of 2004, 13-year-old Brittany Bergquist of Norwell and her 12-year-old brother, Robbie, started Cell Phones for Soldiers to raise money to buy pre-paid calling cards for soldiers serving overseas. The Bergquists started by collecting their piggy bank money and with $21.00 they went to the South Shore Savings Bank of Hanover to open an account. The bank responded with a $500.00 donation to help them get started. Cell Phones for Soldiers has since established over 5,000 drop-off sites across the United States and through generous donations and the recycling of used cell phones, ink-jet cartridges, PDAs and iPods, the Bergquists have now raised close to $1 million, funding 100,000 pre-paid phone cards for American troops serving throughout the world.
  • Two years ago, twelve-year-old Grace Farnan from South Hamilton lost her grandmother, who passed away peacefully while in the loving care of the Hospice of the North Shore (HNS) in Danvers. To show her gratitude to the hospice and the people who cared for her grandmother in her final days, Farnan became the youngest ever volunteer at HNS. Farnan tirelessly dedicated herself to HNS, starting programs to collect picture frames and create guest books for clients to keep their nearest and dearest close by. To date, Farnan has collected more than 225 picture frames and, with the help of her Girl Scout troop, created 500 hand-made guest books.
  • Kevin Monahan from Dorchester formed Collaborations for Achieving School Excellence and Success (CASES), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the Murphy School through programs for children and families. Kevin created a comprehensive set of services, including on-site counseling; free immunization and dental health programs and a literacy program for children under four years of age. Monahan also reorganized the school from an elementary school to cater to children between the ages of pre-school and Grade 8. Today, though the Murphy School has more than 85 percent of its students participating in free and reduced lunch programs, the Murphy School ranks in the top five percent of Boston schools in reading and math.
  • An artist, teacher and entrepreneur, Susan Rodgerson from Boston, founded Artists for Humanity (AFH) as a non-profit arts and entrepreneurship organization in 1992. Artists For Humanity empowers urban teens by engaging them in art and the creative process and connecting them to the business community. Built on the philosophy that art is a powerful force for social change and a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people, AFH’s mission is to provide inner-city youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. Rodgerson’s passion and dedication has led AFH from a small studio to a major nationally and internationally recognized leader in youth arts.


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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