IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventeen-year-old Brian Tolkin spends his free time boating on Lake Washington and Puget Sound -- for a good cause. Four years ago, Tolkin co-founded the nonprofit organization Beams and Dreams to provide cancer patients, survivors and their families respite from grueling medical challenges through all-day boating excursions. Now, Tolkin has been identified as one of the nation''s top 40 heroes and is in the running to be named "America''s Greatest Hometown Hero" in the 6th Annual Volvo for life Awards -- an annual, nationwide search for real-life heroes across America.
Beginning today, the American public can visit and vote for Tolkin. This democratic vote will decide the program finalists in Volvo''s hero search. Three winning heroes will receive $100,000 for their charities. One extraordinary winner will receive a new Volvo car every three years for life.
With the support of local and national cancer organizations, Tolkin has taken more than 1,000 guests out on Lake Washington and Puget Sound. After an aggressive letter writing campaign to local marinas, yacht clubs and large boat owners, Beams and Dreams began with The Olympic Yacht Center donating the use of a new 58 foot powerboat for the group''s first outing. The general manager of Elliott Bay Marina followed up by recruiting ten boat owners to participate a week later. Tolkin has since secured $82,000 of donated services.
As director of Beams and Dreams, Tolkin also schedules entertainment for his guests, including magic shows, live music and barbecues. One cancer patient, Claudia Martinez, calls Beams and Dreams an "inspiration for all," and not simply a day on the water, adding that Tolkin sets a great example for teenagers across the state.
Since 2002, Volvo Cars of North America has identified more than 18,000 everyday heroes in its annual Volvo for life Awards, and has contributed millions of dollars to their causes.
"Once again, Volvo is inviting America itself to serve as one of the Volvo for life Awards judges," said Anne Belec, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars of North America. "Last year we had an overwhelming response with more than 700,000 votes tallied. This year''s heroes are top notch. It will be tough to narrow the field down and pick winners, but Volvo is confident that America is up to the challenge. "
In the end, every vote counts. Ten heroes have been selected in the categories of Safety, Quality of Life, Environment and the Butterfly Award, Volvo''s youth category. The voting period will determine three finalists in each category. Visit and learn more about what the top 40 hometown heroes are doing to make the world a better place now and in the future. Most importantly, support Tolkin with your vote and help bring more funding to your community.
Volvo Cars of North America leads the national initiative, honoring and rewarding local heroes with financial contributions each year. This year, Volvo doubled the charitable donation amount given to the top three winners. One top hero in each of the categories of Safety, Quality of Life and Environment will receive $100,000 for their charities; two runners-up in each category will receive $25,000. One extraordinary winner will go on to receive the title "America''s Greatest Hometown Hero," and with it, a new Volvo car every three years for life.
A fourth Volvo for life Awards category is up for grabs this year -- but only America''s kids can reach it. Volvo is elevating its annual Butterfly Award to its own youth hero category -- with a $25,000 prize for the winner and $10,000 to two runners up.
When the voting period ends January 7, 2008, a panel of distinguished judges will select one winner in each of the four categories. A grand award winner, selected from the Safety, Quality of Life and Environment categories, will be named "America''s Greatest Hometown Hero" and presented with a new Volvo car every three years for the rest of his or her life at the annual Volvo for life Awards Ceremony in New York City, March 19, 2008.
To learn more, or to vote for your favorite hero, visit A Spanish version of the site can also be accessed at this address.
Source: Volvo Cars of North America