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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. (January 3, 2007) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Karen Artichoker of Kyle, who is devoted to stopping domestic abuse at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? Or Sioux Falls’ Christine Dillard, who, at sixteen years old, helped stop the closing of her community library? Or Irene’s David Hansen, who uses his own money to build and remodel homes and schools for disadvantaged communities?


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

  • Karen Artichoker of Kyle started a program to help female victims of domestic violence at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Cangleska, Inc. began as a two-person outreach office and now operates two crisis shelters, departments for legal services and Sacred Circle, the national resource center dedicated to ending violence against Native American women. All violence prevention services incorporate traditional values of the Lakota people.
  • Melva Ann Clifford of Rapid City is idolized by many Pine Ridge Indian Reservation women because she earned what many people on the reservation never receive: a college degree. After leaving her abusive marriage and the reservation with her seven children, Clifford pursued a nursing degree. In December 2004, Clifford received her Registered Nurse certification, moved back to the reservation and is now a role model for her kids and the Pine Ridge Lakota women.
  • Sixteen-year-old Christine Dillard of Sioux Falls raised $10,000 and mobilized more than 4,000 people to help two terminally ill children and their families with medical expenses. Dillard also fought to stop her community library from closing by helping mobilize volunteers, design financial and construction plans, plan the interior, hang sheetrock, paint and order furniture, fixtures and books. Dillard then conceived and organized the “We’ve Got You Covered” program in Spencer and Sioux Falls, which provides clothing for disadvantaged children.
  • David Hansen of Irene helps build and remodel homes, schools, roofs and desks for disadvantaged members of surrounding communities. In addition to volunteering his time, Hansen uses his own money to buy the construction supplies. He also provides educational funds for local children who otherwise could not afford the opportunity.
  • In 1989, Marlin Weston of Porcupine, a c-5 quadriplegic, co-founded the Quad Squad, an organization dedicated to advocating for the disabled on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Weston’s efforts have prompted reservation officials to install wheelchair ramps and increase funding for disability services. In 1994 Weston joined the tribal council and helped get the Americans with Disabilities Act added to the tribal constitution.


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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