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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. (November 20, 2006) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Centerville’s Vicki Dischner, who started an organization that creates items for premature babies at hospitals, funeral homes and for families in need? Or Iowa City’s Thomas Walz, who helps disabled individuals start businesses? Or Cedar Falls’ Dr. Michele Yehieli, who provides health education to people in medically-underserved neighborhoods?


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

  • Mike Brooks, of Iowa City, has dedicated his life to encouraging young people to get involved in their communities through his program, The 10,000 Hours Show (10K). The program presents concerts by nationally-recognized performing artists for which the only admission requirement is ten hours of community service with a local non-profit. More than 3,500 10K participants have logged in excess of 70,000 hours of local service. Supported by an all-volunteer staff, 10K has produced concerts featuring Ben Folds, Guster and Cake.
  • Vicki Dischner, of Centerville, created non-profit organization, Precious Angels. The organization creates products for premature babies and donates them to hospitals, funeral homes and families in need. Dischner founded the organization 30 years ago after losing her own premature baby. Precious Angels’ volunteers help families deal with an unexpectedly premature baby through a variety of hand-made goods, including sleepers, blankets and booties. They also help those grieving the devastating loss of a premature baby by providing hand-made caskets.
  • Thomas Walz, of Iowa City, began helping disabled individuals operate businesses in 1974. In 2001, Walz had a dream come true with the opening of Uptown Bill’s Small Mall, a collection of small businesses owned and operated by people with disabilities and a staff of volunteers. Walz works more than 70 hours a week at the mall as the volunteer executive director. Five disabled individuals own six businesses at Uptown Bill’s with the help of more than sixty volunteers.
  • Dorothy Newmire, of Iowa City, begins her day by volunteering at Uptown Bill’s Small Mall, a project that provides business ownership and employment to people with disabilities. In the afternoon, Newmire runs errands to the grocery store or post office for some of the handicapped business owners in the mall. Newmire spends the remainder of her day volunteering at Windmill Point, an assisted living facility in Iowa City, where she helps residents with meals and chores and keeps them company.
  • Dr. Michele Yehieli, of Cedar Falls, founded Global Health Corps in 1997. The group educates medically-underserved populations about good health practices in the places they live and work, such as immigrant apartment buildings and ethnic markets. Yehieli has educated more than 40,000 individuals about preventative health.


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.




Peggy Bell

Haberman & Associates



Sören Johansson

Volvo Cars of North America




Media:For photos and more information on the Volvo for life Awards visit

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