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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 30, 2006) – Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Richard LaMunyon of Wichita, who created the single largest grassroots fundraising and awareness activity for the Special Olympics movement? Or Robin Pool of Derby, who founded an organization to teach individuals how to train service dogs for the disabled? Or Tom Prichard of Overland Park, who founded Sudan Sunrise to increase the number of Americans partnering with Sudanese relief groups?


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

  • In 1981 Retired Chief Richard LaMunyon of the Wichita Police Department founded the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETR). The LETR for Special Olympics has become the single largest grassroots fundraising and awareness activity for the Special Olympics movement. In 2004, 85,000 law enforcement officers served as "Guardians of the Flame,” carrying the Special Olympics "Flame of Hope" to the opening ceremonies of hundreds of local, regional, national and international Special Olympics Games. LETR has generated more than $336 million in financial support for the Special Olympics movement.
  • In January 2005, eight-year old Abby Bridgewater of Culver was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. To lift her spirits, she began making fairy figures. What started as a hobby during treatment soon blossomed into a grand giving gesture. Bridgewater now makes and sells the fairies and has raised thousands of dollars for In the Arms of Friends, a local charity that supports families of children diagnosed with cancer.
  • Dr. Sharon Lee of Kansas City established two non-profit health clinics, Family Health Care and the Duchesne Clinic, to serve more than 12,000 underinsured and uninsured patients. Under the Family Health Care umbrella she created the Permanency Planning Program to provide custodial care for children with a parent dying of a terminal illness (the program helps parents prepare legacy videos and letters) and the Hepatitis C Program to educate and treat those suffering from this disease.
  • In 1998, Robin Pool of Derby founded the non-profit organization Paws-Up, Inc. after years of working with her own service dog. Paws-Up offers an owner-training program that empowers people with disabilities to train their own dog as an assistance dog. The program has graduated 15 human/dog teams and is in the process of helping 16 more teams reach their graduation goals. Pool leads weekly classes for Paws-Up and has helped numerous disabled individuals, health professionals and educators learn how to assistance train dogs.
  • In early 2005, Tom Prichard of Overland Park left his job as mission pastor to found Sudan Sunrise, an organization greatly increasing the number of Americans partnering with Sudanese relief teams. Sudan Sunrise led to the creation of the Sudanese Women’s Movement, giving Sudanese women, both Christian and Muslim, the opportunity to break through old barriers of enmity, fight for peace and demand a better future for their children.


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.


Volvo and members of the celebrity-judging panel will honor the winning heroes on April 5, 2007 at the 42nd St. Cipriani during the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards Ceremony. There, 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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