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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 8, 2007) –– Who would you give a Volvo to? How about Brook Miley, a nine-year-old cancer survivor and heart transplant recipient, who raises money and awareness for organ transplantation? Or Elizabeth Brown, who created an organization to address problems of adult illiteracy and school dropouts in her community? Or Dr. Samuel Okoye, who works to ensure that underserved Mississippi residents receive free preventive healthcare?


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

  • Joey Beech of Ellisville has spent thousands of hours volunteering for the local Association for Retarded Citizens chapter. Beech also volunteers for eight weeks each summer and twice a month other times of the year for the local respite programs, where he completes a wide variety of tasks. His sister, Hannah, was born with cerebral palsy and inspired him to help children like her attain the opportunities and friendships in the larger community that they deserve.
  • As a toddler, nine-year-old Brooke Miley of Sumrall received a heart transplant. At five years old, doctors diagnosed her with cancer. Not only does Miley now fight on by living every day to its fullest, she also gives back to her community. To honor those who made it possible for her to receive a heart transplant, Miley has taken the lead in helping to create a nationwide organ donor patch for the Girl Scouts. Her courage and efforts have also drawn healthcare organizations to seek her out as a spokesperson. Although she comes from a small community, Miley raised $43,000 during her first organ donation campaign drive.
  • In 1988, Elizabeth Brown of Okolona formed Excel, Inc., an organization where people of all ages and races work together to better the community. Programs are now in place to address problems of adult illiteracy and school dropouts – an especially severe problem for teen mothers. Excel also provides after-school and summer learning programs for children and teen mothers. In 2003 and 2004, volunteers performed more than 10,249 hours of service and more than 10,000 community members participated in Excel programs.
  • For ten years John Kerwin of Natchez has volunteered as a Hunter, Safety and Bow Hunter Safety Instructor for the 4-H Field and Stream Program in both Mississippi and Louisiana. He worked to certify 500 students in hunting safety regulations and practical application of safety and sportsmanship. For five years he has served as instructor for the “55 Alive Driving Safety Program,” sponsored by the American Association of Retried Persons. Kerwin has also dedicated time to educating senior citizens in a series of seminars titled "Don't Be a Victim," covering home, automobile and public activities.
  • Dr. Samuel Okoye of Jackson works to ensure that underserved Mississippi residents receive free preventive healthcare. He provides free diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, as well as free cancer, teen pregnancy and alcohol/drug abuse prevention services to more than 5,000 of Mississippi’s poor. Dr. Okoye also helped sponsor the Mississippi Health Awareness Day bill, signed into law April 14, 2006.


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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