Volvo to start nominee search for '04 Awards

IRVINE, CA: Volvo Cars of North America has announced that beginning September 16, it will seek nominations for the second annual Volvo for Life Awards.

IRVINE, CA: Volvo Cars of North America has announced that beginning September 16, it will seek nominations for the second annual Volvo for Life Awards.

Launched as a grassroots-style program last year, the Volvo for Life Awards is a corporate philanthropic venture designed to honor "everyday heroes" who make contributions to their communities in the areas of safety, quality of life, and the environment.

The winners in each category receive a $50,000 donation to the charity of their choice, and the overall winner receives a Volvo for life. The 2003 winner Robert Young, who helps build cheap, energy-efficient homes on Indian reservations, will serve on this year's judging panel alongside celebrity judges, including Major League Baseball home run king Hank Aaron, Architect Maya Lin, screen legend Paul Newman, and former US Senator and NBA star Bill Bradley.

In total, Volvo expects to contribute $1 million to nonprofits through the highly publicized program.

Heroes can be nominated at volvoforlifeawards.com, which will be promoted by Minneapolis PR firm Haberman & Associates. Last year, the agency promoted the nominees in their local markets to inspire people to nominate other heroes through the site.

"This year, we have a network of association communications pros who manage newsletters that we're going to tap into, as well as all of the local broadcast and print feature writers who we know are interested in these types of stories." said Fred Haberman, founder of the firm.

This year will also feature a separate program called Volvo Heroes USA, through which Volvo employees and retailers may be nominated for another set of awards.

"It's a golden egg we were sitting on, and not using for internal purposes," said Volvo corporate communications manager Soren Johansson, who added that all nominations, internal or external, can be viewed on the awards website.

Retailers will also be provided with materials and guidelines to help them promote nominees in their area.

The inaugural event, despite a relatively short lead-time, brought in 2,036 nominations, representing each of the 50 states. Johansson said that the Awards show itself and the winners have generated steady press since the April 2003 show.

This year, "we have more time to get nominations, and more time to tell the stories once the nominations process is over," added Haberman. "Our hope is that we can continue to build greater awareness, and get as much participation as possible from as many Americans as we can."

Nevertheless, the company feels they have established a winning template.

"We pretty much are going to stick to what we did last year - just a few tweaks here and there," said Johansson.

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