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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 4, 2007) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Laura Corlin, who provides music gift bags and CD players to hospital patients fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases? Or Barbara Frankel, who created New Hampshire’s first family and community-based program for children with autism? Or Jesse Walker, who volunteers for an organization that provides recreational hiking opportunities for individuals with disabilities?


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

  • At 12 years old, Laura Corlin of Strafford sang to comfort her grandfather during his cancer treatments. Three years after his passing, Corlin found inspiration in the musical journey they shared and founded The Difference Music Makes, a program providing young hospital patients with the healing benefits of music during treatment for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The program has delivered music gift bags, CD’s and CD players to 1500 children's hospital patients nationwide. Corlin has independently produced and recorded three CD’s for the program. She also recruited 12 young recording artists and 55 internationally known musicians to donate CDs for the gift bags.
  • In 2002 university professor and family therapist, Barbara Frankel of Portsmouth founded The Birchtree Center, New Hampshire’s first family and community-based program for children with autism. The organization serves to nurture the full potential of children with autism, providing research-based educational services related to the complex neurological disability. Frankel’s own struggle to obtain specialized autism services for her son provided the motivation to open the center.
  • Samita Mohanasundaram of Nashua has spent most of her young life helping others. She taught impoverished children in India, sold Make-A-Wish angels and collected and donated more than 12,000 books to places in need around the world. Mohanasundaram also organized a card-signing drive to send more than 1,000 greeting cards to Florida’s hurricane-affected residents. To help her peers, she started a column in her local newspaper giving students useful math tips. In addition, Mohanasundaram performs classical Indian dance and plays piano in retirement and nursing homes to help the elderly feel connected to the larger community.
  • Elizabeth, Sarah and Carlton Spalding of Concord, have dedicated their volunteer efforts to helping 300 children attending the rural primary school in the South African village of Supingstad. When the Spaldings first visited the school, they found none of the classrooms had windows, most of the chairs and tables were broken, termites had destroyed the roof and students were forced to use open pit latrines. The Spaldings spent three years raising funds by selling crafts and starting a candy and popsicle store out of their home to completely remodel the facility. Through a program the Spaldings created called Kids Teaching Kids, the students of Supingstad Primary became part of the rebuilding process by painting and cleaning, thus taking ownership of their own school and education.
  • Jesse Walker of Ossippe volunteers for The Northeast Passage, which provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Walker joined the organization for a historic ascent to a newly accessible point at the top of Galehead Mountain, located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Walker spent 12 hours on the trail making sure every disabled participant on the hike made it to the mountaintop. Since that trip, Walker has volunteered on nearly every adaptive hike offered, including many school group field trips.


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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Erin Fifield

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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