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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 31, 2006) – Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Jodie Leyfert, who raises money to provide stuffed animals to hospitalized children? Or Melissa Paris, who donates time and raises money for childhood epilepsy research? Or Lisa Urgo, who founded an organization to support Brazilian outreach programs for homeless children?


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

  • Jessika Boyle, of Pittsburgh, serves with the Homeless Education Fund (HEF), an organization doing work at homeless shelters and at a local hospital. In 2001, Boyle organized a fundraising drive through her school to help provide Christmas gifts for needy children. Enough money was raised to provide gifts for 22 teenagers. In August 2002, Boyle assisted the HEF with a drive to provide backpacks and school supplies to homeless children and in December 2002, she raised enough money to sponsor a shelter for 35 children.
  • During a hospital stay in May of 1998, Jodie Leyfert, of Pottstown, decided she wanted to give children in the emergency room stuffed animals for comfort. Through various fundraising efforts, her organization Hospital Hugs, Inc. has raised $30,000 and has donated more than 4,000 stuffed animals to children and elderly patients in the emergency room at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.
  • Melissa Paris of Lansdale, has raised money for, and brought attention to, the need to cure childhood epilepsy. Paris not only volunteers at the Ali Paris Fund for Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (LKS) Research & Education, she has raised more than $100,000 to fund medical research on LKS, a form of childhood epilepsy. In addition to causing seizures, LKS interferes with a child’s ability to speak and develop normally. With this in mind, Paris has chosen to be the voice for those who cannot speak.
  • Mary Lou Peduzzi of Mount Union, created the "Mount Union Community Action Partnership" because the community was frustrated with all the negative news stories in the local paper. In response, MUCAP started a community “neighborhood watch” to help fight crime. The organization cleans the streets, works with the police and probation departments and organizes a “night out against crime” event. Additionally, it is partnering with the borough and applying for grants to rehabilitate local parks for children and families.
  • Lisa Urgo of Johnstown, founded the Dreams Can Be Foundation, an American charity and Brazilian non-governmental organization, to help programs serving the street children of Rio de Janeiro. The foundation serves these at-risk children by soliciting grants, funds, resources and expertise, which it then distributes to local outreach programs in Rio de Janeiro. In two years, Urgo has raised more than $250,000 and has started her own child sponsorship program, in addition to strengthening local Brazilian programs.


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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