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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. (December 20, 2006) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Wilma Subra who forced a major corporation to take responsibility for its environmentally damaging actions? Or Cheryl Fell who created a lighthearted clown personality to entertain hospital patients and their families? Or Bertha Stoner who facilitates a support group for people fighting breast cancer?


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

  • William Dunckelman of Houma, founded Fine Arts Motivating the Elderly (F.A.M.E.), an organization created to improve the lives of elderly people in nursing and assisted-living homes by collecting and donating fine arts materials, literature and music. F.A.M.E. has collected thousands of books, tapes, CDs and other materials for distribution to elderly homes in every state. More than one thousand kids have helped with the project, doing anything from collecting entertainment materials to holding small theater productions at nursing homes.
  • For 14 years, Cheryl Fell of Scott has brought a smile to thousands of hospital patients and healthcare professionals nationwide. She uses humor with patients, families and co-workers, helping promote a unique approach to healthcare. Fell’s humorous techniques include a clown persona she created named "Nurse FUNshine.” No matter the city, hospital or crowd, Nurse FUNshine helps improve the quality of life for all people in and around the healthcare system.
  • For seven years Cathy Arends of Prairieville has volunteered at the women’s state prison where she spends time comforting pregnant inmates. Children born to inmates are taken away at birth, so Arends visits weekly to help with grief and loss issues the women face. She also spends time with the women while they are in labor and delivery, because no visitors are allowed to be present. In addition, Arends created a memorial, called the Azalea Garden, for babies of inmates that die in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Bertha Stoner, a two-time breast cancer survivor from Lake Charles, is a charter member of the Bosom Buddies breast cancer group and has co-facilitated the group for ten years. At Bosom Buddies, Stoner arranges social functions for women struggling with breast cancer and secures Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts for them from local businesses. Stoner also works for Reach to Recovery, an organization that counsels cancer patients. She sends cards and makes calls to patients, simply to remind them they are not alone.
  • Wilma Subra, of New Iberia, is a hero to the residents of Diamond, a community situated along the fence line of a chemical company facility in Norco. Residents of the community had been plagued for years by respiratory ailments and high cancer rates. These health hazards were directly linked to toxic emissions from the nearby plant. In an effort to urge a major corporation to take responsibility for its environmentally damaging actions and protect the health of hundreds, she negotiated a relocation plan on behalf of the residents. The company paid 300 households above-market prices for their homes and covered the families’ relocation and moving costs. The area is now a buffer zone between the facility and Norco.


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.


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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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