Dr. Ingida Asfaw, an Ethiopian-born Detroit heart surgeon who kept a half-century promise to himself by creating an international coalition to address his homeland’s medical crises, has been named "America’s Greatest Hometown Hero" at the 4th Annual Volvo for life Awards ceremony. For his efforts, he receives a $50,000 contribution to the charity of his choice and a new Volvo every three years for life.
Dr. Asfaw, 68, founded the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA) in 1999 with the goal of providing healthcare to the people of Ethiopia, a country where the ratio of physicians to population is 1 per 100,000. Today, ENAHPA is a network of more than 500 medical and non-medical professionals and volunteers from the United States, Canada, China and South America who donate their time and talents to address the Ethiopian healthcare crises through medical mission trips and other social initiatives.
Held at the Rainbow Room on April 12, the Volvo for life Awards ceremony capped off the largest-ever national search for and celebration of everyday heroes, providing $1 million in awards and financial contributions.
The 4th annual initiative, launched in July 2005, called on people nationwide to visit http://www.volvoforlifeawards.com and nominate an unsung hero they know in one of three categories: safety, quality of life and environment. Volvo received 4,341 nominations representing all 50 states. In February 2006, Volvo selected 100 semi-finalists and narrowed the field to the top three finalists in the three categories.
A distinguished panel of judges — including 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 reviewed the finalists’ nominations and selected a winner in each of the three categories. Judges selected Dr. Asfaw as the winner in the quality of life category and the overall grand winner.
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