Early this year we posted on three exemplary human beings that make us question what we're doing with our lives. (Writing about cars? Cars, really?) Well, after we had long forgotten about our lack of contributions to the greater good, we discovered that Dr. Ingida Asfaw, an Ethiopian-born doctor, has won the Volvo for Life Award.
The doctor, who is responsible for organizing over 500 medical professionals to provide support to an ailing health infrastructure in his home country, was award $50,000 to send to the charity of his choice and the grand prize of a brand new Volvo every three years for the rest of his life. He drove off this past Wednesday in a new V8 XC90. Good call doc, although we may have went with the V60R, but to each their own.

Dr. Asfaw was one of over 4,000 nominees who were selected by a panel of leaders in their respective fields and a grouping of globally conscious celebrities (the list of celebs can be found in the press release after the jump).

The background on Dr. Asfaw is a worthwhile read, but some highlights include his departure for the U.S. at 16 to study medicine, his return to Ethiopia to form ENAHPA, perform surgeries, train other medical professionals and provide assistance to Ethiopian children afflicted with AIDS.

Our wholehearted congratulations to Dr. Asfaw and all the nominees.
PRESS RELEASE

Aug 16, 2006 10:00 America/Los_Angeles

Heroic Detroit Doctor Receives a Volvo for Life ... Literally

Volvo Honors Local Hero Dr. Ingida Asfaw With a New Car Every Three Years for Life

Visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com to View Hundreds of Incredible Hero Stories

DETROIT, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A local hero from the Detroit area today is receiving a "thank you" to last a lifetime: a complimentary new Volvo car every three years for the rest of his life.

Earlier this year, celebrity judges named Dr. Ingida Asfaw, "America's Greatest Hometown Hero" in the fourth annual Volvo for life Awards, the nation's largest search for and celebration of everyday heroes, with Volvo providing $1 million in contributions in honor of local heroes. Dr. Asfaw is an Ethiopian-born heart surgeon who kept a half-century promise to himself by creating an international coalition called the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA) to address his homeland's medical crises.

Launched in 2002, the Volvo for life Awards calls for people nationwide to nominate a local hero they know doing the extraordinary in the areas of safety, quality of life or environment at www.volvoforlifeawards.com. Since June 2005, Volvo has received more than 4,341 nominations, including Dr. Asfaw's and 49 others from Michigan, for the 4th Annual Volvo for life Awards. In February, Volvo selected three winning heroes in each category.

Judges Hank Aaron, Sen. Bill Bradley, Caroline Kennedy, Sir Richard Branson, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Val Kilmer, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Dr. Sally Ride and Hope Bevilhymer (3rd Annual Volvo for life Awards winner) then selected the overall category winners, who received a $50,000 charitable contribution. At a gala ceremony in New York this past April, judges announced Dr. Asfaw as the winner in the quality of life category and also unveiled him as the overall grand winner and a recipient of a Volvo car every three years for life.

For his first car choice, Dr. Asfaw selected the 2007 Volvo XC90 V8. Today at a lunchtime ceremony at Suburban Volvo in Troy, Mich. attended by Dr. Asfaw's friends, family and associates, the retailer and executives from Volvo Cars of North America presented Dr. Asfaw with the keys to his new car.

"Every year I am touched by the amazing stories and thousands of nominations we receive through the Volvo for life Awards," said Anne Belec, president of Volvo Cars of North America. "Dr. Asfaw stands tall as a man who has devoted his energy and skills to addressing a devastating crisis in his homeland. It's an honor for Volvo to help him advance his cause."

The 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards already is underway. Volvo has named 250 extraordinary heroes nationwide -- five per state -- as semi-finalists. Now, for the first time, individuals can vote for their favorite heroes at www.volvoforlifeawards.com through Feb. 4, 2007. In March, Dr. Asfaw will join celebrity judges in selecting next year's winning heroes, to be honored April in New York.

About Dr. Asfaw

At the young age of 16, Asfaw departed from his hometown in Ethiopia determined to study medicine in the United States and in return put an end to the lack of a national healthcare program. Now, at 68 years of age, he has kept his promise of someday returning to Ethiopia with helping hands.

In 1999 Dr. Asfaw started ENAHPA and encouraged others to join him in treating the people of Ethiopia. In a country where the ratio of physicians to population is 1 per 100,000, the idea of a healthcare system was nonexistent and Dr. Asfaw's dream was to change just that. With support from over 500 medical and non-medical professionals and volunteers from the United States, Canada, China and South America, a sense of hope has been returned to the people of Ethiopia. ENAHPA has led the volunteers through mission trips and other social initiatives to address the healthcare crisis by donating their time and service.

This renowned surgeon along with his team of ENAHPA volunteers has performed nearly 100 surgical procedures; conducted advanced training for 250 Ethiopian healthcare professionals and donated 32,400 books; provided lifesaving medical equipment; instruments and supplies to several specialized hospitals, three universities and a leprosy research training center. Now over 500 AIDS orphans are being cared for by a newly created program by Dr. Asfaw, which supports a grassroots Ethiopian organization to provide the patients with the medical care they need.

Now residing in Metro Detroit, working as cardiovascular surgeon at; Sinai-Grace Hospital, St. Joseph POH North Oakland Medical Center, Huron Valley Hospital, Harper Hospital and Crittenton Hospital Dr. Asfaw has taken on another challenge working as a clinical professor of surgery at Wayne State University. Dr. Asfaw is also the chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Trinity Heath-St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and chief executive officer of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons of Michigan.

About Volvo for life Awards

The Volvo for life Awards was launched in 2002 to recognize and celebrate local hero's nationwide. For more information or to vote for the fifth annual Volvo for life recipient please visit our website at www.volvoforlifeawards.com. Who would you give a Volvo to? Join us in the search for the 2007 Volvo for life recipient by simply submitting a nomination and voting for your local hero.

For photos and more information on the Volvo for life Awards: www.volvocars-pr.com

Source: Volvo Cars of North America

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