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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 21, 2006) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Charleston’s Anne Lee, who started a program to educate society on the steps needed to stop sexual abuse? Or Sumpter’s Luis Rodriguez, who has improved living conditions for more than 5,000 low-income individuals? Or Orangeburg’s Cheri Thompson, who started an organization to help children create peace within their lives?


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

  • Anne Lee, of Charleston, has dedicated her life to addressing, awakening and educating society to take steps to stop sexual child abuse. In January of 2000, Lee created Darkness to Light, a program that today spans 32 states and two other countries.
  • Jack B. McConnell, of Hilton Head Island, ended his retirement from medicine 10 years ago to serve the unmet medical needs of his community. McConnell started the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic (VIM), a free clinic which relies entirely on retired medical personnel to provide care. VIM has helped tens of thousands of underserved and uninsured patients get the health care they need.
  • Luis Rodriguez, of Sumpter, has devoted the past 11 years to improving the quality of life for low-income individuals in rural South Carolina. During this time, Rodriguez built a shopping center in an impoverished empowerment zone community. He also developed eight apartment complexes catering to low-income families and elderly individuals and has set aside housing units for homeless individuals. In addition to his many efforts, Rodriguez takes time to develop an annual Christmas basketball tournament to give kids something constructive to do during their long holiday break.
  • Cheri Thompson, of Orangeburg, has devoted her time, energy, heart and money to her mission of giving children a chance to create peace within their hearts. Thompson’s program, The Healing Species, is a violence prevention and compassion outreach program that uses animals to teach children the value of life, empathy, conflict resolution and critical thinking. With the help of five full-time employees, Thompson’s 12-week program has helped more than 4,000 children.
  • Adam Weiner, of Hartsville, helps troubled youngsters through his unique, non-profit organization, Puck’s Theater. Puck’s Theater encourages kids to use the dramatic arts to explain their frustrations, torments and dreams through words. The kids Weiner helps are either referred to him through the legal system, attend the local alternative school or are kids from special programs in regular schools. So far, Weiner has helped more than 4,000 kids find words to express themselves.


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.



Kim McMartin

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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