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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 Avis Jervis, who suffered through years of unspeakable domestic violence and now runs an abuse shelter for local women and children? Or Kyle Monette, who created an organization to raise awareness about and funds for diabetes research? Or Gail Suzuki-Jones, who promotes statewide sustainable development and resource efficiency?


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

  • Thomas Brehm of Honolulu works tirelessly with the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to address the impact of Alzheimer’s not only on those diagnosed with the disease, but also on their families. Brehm also donates his time and expertise to the Great Hawaiian Air Race, a cross-country aviation fund-raising event which supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brehm also volunteers as a member of the Knights of Columbus.
  • In 1987, Avis Jervis of Kailua partnered with a group of community residents, clergymen, legislators and business leaders to fund and open a shelter for domestic violence victims. Jervis became a wife and mother at the age of fifteen and her young married life quickly mirrored that of her abusive childhood. Throughout her marriage Jervis suffered broken ribs, knocked-out teeth, a broken jaw and punctured eardrums. She remained a domestic prisoner until another woman stabbed her husband to death out of fear for Jervis’ life. Jervis now dedicates her time and money to the shelter, where she personally answers the hotline and welcomes women and their children into the safe haven. Jervis was also elected to the State House of Representatives where she fights for the public’s security and violence prevention.
  • Kyle Monette of Mililani created Kids Helping Kids With Diabetes to raise awareness about diabetes and funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Monette rallied 24 schools statewide to participate in JDRF’s Walkathon, which raised thousands of dollars. His organization also sponsored the first “Shoes in the Chute Race” at a local water park to raise funds. Monette’s educational efforts include creating informative brochures and Web pages, as well as testifying to the state legislature and delivering petitions in support of House Bill 2074, which would provide additional funding for diabetes research.
  • For more than ten years Gail Suzuki-Jones of Honolulu has worked for sustainable development and resource efficiency. Her statewide efforts promote recycling, resource reduction methods (given Hawaii’s position in the Pacific Ocean) and resource reuse. Suzuki-Jones’ work also includes assisting a variety of non-profits and grassroots groups to establish community-based programs, as well as working statewide with organizations and businesses to develop "green-building" techniques and other environmentally friendly business practices.
  • Gail Watanabe of Pearl City plays a crucial role in guiding hundreds of local youth toward becoming creative, responsible adults. She has created an after-school program that helps kids stay safe, make positive choices and become connected with peers through positive activities. She has also helped them stay away from illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol by her own example. Because of her dedication to remaining alcohol-free, couples getting married in her community have replaced champagne with sparkling cider in their toasting ceremonies.


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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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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