Press Releases



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 27, 2006) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Sydney Steely, a staunch youth advocate for anti-tobacco? Or Mitchell Collins who collects pop tabs to raise money for toys and other small items to make children more comfortable in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital? Or Doug Garner who founded the Junior Rollin’ Razorbacks to provide opportunities and equipment for disabled kids to attend wheelchair sports events throughout Arkansas?


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

  • Mitchell Collins of Murfreesboro collects pop tabs to raise money for supplies, toys and other small items to make children more comfortable in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Once a child cancer patient himself, Collins has inspired schools, senior citizen groups and businesses to collect tabs. Collins also volunteers with Howard County Children’s Center for the mentally disabled.
  • Doug Garner of Hot Springs founded the Junior Rollin’ Razorbacks to provide opportunities and equipment for disabled kids to attend wheelchair sports weekends and participate in a multitude of sports events throughout Arkansas, including road racing, track and field, basketball and cycling. Kids in Garner’s teams learn they have a vital role to play in their local communities, their schools and society. Garner also volunteers as the President of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, Youth Division, helping the league expand to include forty programs across the country.
  • Kathy Read of Blytheville dedicates her life to helping people less fortunate than herself, often providing financial and emotional support, and even her home, to children and families in need. Read led an effort called Feed the Need, providing clothing, food and supplies to more than 500 disadvantaged people. And every year, she buys books, clothing and supplies for local children and takes them on trips to Memphis Zoo and other cultural venues.
  • A drop out at age 14 and a widow with seven children by the age of 29, Emma Rhodes of Little Rock fought the odds to obtain her GED, then enrolled in college at night while working to support her family during the day. After graduating, Dr. Rhodes served as an Administrator for the Arkansas Department of Education for 26 years. Driven by her own experience, on retirement Dr. Rhodes established the Education and Multipurpose Center to offer free educational services to inner city communities. The center provides GED classes for youth and adults as well as refresher courses for adult graduates, computer literacy classes and life-skills training.
  • After losing her grandmother to lung cancer at age 13, Sydney Steely of Murfreesboro made a promise never to smoke. Steely not only kept her promise but took it one step further to start an anti-smoking campaign to share tobacco facts with her teenage peers. Steely’s campaign started with anti-tobacco messages attached to candy for each elementary child in her county and grew to educational booths at health and county fairs and workshops at the local, state and national level. She also lobbies lawmakers regarding FDA regulation on tobacco products and currently serves on the Arkansas Tobacco Control Youth Board.


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.


# # #


Erin Fifield

Haberman & Associates



Sören Johansson

Volvo Cars of North America



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

Special Interests
Descriptions and facts in this press material relate to Volvo Cars' international car range. Described features might be optional. Vehicle specifications may vary from one country to another and may be altered without prior notification.

For information on how Volvo Cars process your personal data in relation to Volvo Cars Global Newsroom click here.

Volvo Cars Newsroom makes use of cookies in order to optimize your user experience on this website. The cookies on the website do not store personal information. For more information, read our Cookies Policy page.