While not quite as nice as the million dollars of donations and new whip every three years that the "Greatest Hometown Hero" will receive, all of the finalists get taken care of in some way. First, they get flown to New York for a nice honors ceremony, and each category winner has a short film about them presented. The category winners also receive $50,000 contributions to the charity of their choice. The award finalists have been announced, and reading through the list makes us feel like we've been wasting our lives. There are three categories - Safety, Quality of Life, and Environment, and each category has three finalists. They're a varied and interesting lot, who've certainly got the best interest of their fellow humans in mind:
- A safe driving advocate who's NBA star husband was killed while street racing,
- A mother who fled an abusive relationship reaching out to others in the same situation
- A New Jersey resident who created an orphanage for victims of the Rwandan Genocide
- A Detroit reverend who runs programs to benefit homeless and mentally ill inner-city residents
- A Georgia woman who created a foster home for children with special medical needs, and trains foster parents to care for them
- An African refugee who's humanitarian organization works for the welfare of other African refugees.
- A 15 year old cancer survivor who's printer cartridge recycling program donates proceeds to pediatric oncology
- A California mom who aims to protect school children from harmful chemicals
- A Flordia principal who created a local nature preserve with the help of her young students
AMERICA HAS SPOKEN, GREATEST UNSUNG HEROES REVEALED
Finalists Named in 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards
Celebrity Judges to Unveil Top Three Heroes, April 5, in the heart of New York City; Grand Award Winner Will Receive a Volvo Car for Life
NEW YORK CITY (February 15, 2007) –– Move over American Idol, results are in from an America votes tally that really counts. For the past six months the American public has been voting to decide the country's favorite hometown heroes in the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards. Now, after counting 676,903 votes, the top three heroes in the categories of Safety, Environment and Quality of Life can be revealed. Heroes rising to the top of the voting pool include a courageous African refugee and mother of nine children who created an international organization to help refugees, a widow who bravely turned her own tragedy into a personal mission for safe teenage driving and a 15-year-old cancer survivor who raises money for cancer research while helping the planet by driving an ink cartridge recycling initiative.
The Volvo for life Awards (www.volvoforlifeawards.com) is the largest-ever national search for and celebration of everyday heroes, with Volvo Cars of North America providing $1 million in awards and contributions in their honor.
Now, the Volvo for life Awards' distinguished panel of judges - including Hank Aaron, Sen. Bill Bradley, Caroline Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Val Kilmer, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Dr. Sally Ride and previous grand award winners - will review the finalists' nominations to select the program's three category winners. Volvo will then select a grand award winner who will receive a new Volvo every three years for life and the distinction of being named "America's Greatest Hometown Hero."
The program, launched in August 2006, called for individuals nationwide to visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com and vote for their favorite unsung hometown hero. America selected the following heroes to be the Fifth Anniversary finalists:
* Kendall Phills of Charlotte, N.C. lost her former NBA star husband in a nationally publicized street racing accident in 2000. Phills is now a powerful advocate for safe driving and with her initiative, "Be Safe-Drive Smart," she takes her husband's wrecked car on tour to educate North Carolina teens about dangerous driving habits.
* After fleeing the Middle East to protect herself and her children from her abusive husband, Paula Lucas of Portland, Ore., started an organization to help American women abroad escape abusive relationships.
* Rosamond Carr, of South Orange, N.J., opened an orphanage to care for young victims of Rwandan genocide. The Imbabazi Orphanage is currently home to 124 children. Carr passed away September 29, 2006, but her legacy lives on in the hundreds of children she rescued at the orphanage.
Quality of Life:
* Rev. Faith Fowler of Detroit, Mich., runs a variety of programs that benefit the local homeless, mentally ill and mentally impaired populations in her inner-city neighborhood.
* Laura Moore of Lilburn, Ga., founded the Dream House, a transitional foster home to provide loving care for medically fragile children, while recruiting and training foster parents to take care of them.
* Rose Mapendo of Peoria, Ariz., an African refugee and mother of nine children, established Mapendo International, a humanitarian aid organization that works with the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations to rescue and protect other African refugees.
* Eli Kahn, a 15 year-old cancer survivor from Baltimore, Md., established a program that asks businesses, non-profits, individuals and educational organizations to recycle used ink jet and laser printer cartridges. All recycling proceeds go to pediatric oncology research at Johns Hopkins.
* Robina Suwol, a Van Nuys, Calif. mom, advocates for policies to protect school children from harmful chemicals.
* Bonnie Swanson, an Indian River County School system principal in Vero Beach, Fla., led her nine- and ten-year-old students to raise money for and create a local, permanent nature reserve.
Volvo will fly the three category winners to New York to be honored at the world famous Cipriani's during the Volvo for life Awards ceremony on April 5, 2007. At the event, Volvo and program judges will present a short film documenting each winner and present him or her with a $50,000 contribution to the charity of his or her choice. In addition, they will announce the program's grand winner, who will receive a new Volvo car every three years for the rest of his or her life and will be named "America's Greatest Hometown Hero." The remaining six finalists will receive donations of $25,000 to the charities of their choice.
Top child heroes also are being judged for the third-annual Alexandra Scott Butterfly Award. The award is in honor of Alexandra Scott, a Volvo for life Awards winner from Wynnewood, Pa. who, before passing away at age eight from cancer, raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research through lemonade sales and other fundraising activities. Alexandra's parents will select the winner, who will receive a $25,000 charitable contribution and special recognition at the awards ceremony.
The 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards will be hosted by actor Benjamin Bratt and will feature musical performances by various artists. During the ceremony, Volvo will also present a Volvo for life Friendship Award and $25,000 to a buddy pair for their friendship and their contribution to Best Buddies. Visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com for more information on the Volvo for life Awards and to view hundreds of hero stories, including this year's finalists.