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Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, announced today an innovative new partnership with Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that provides friends and jobs to people with mental retardation.

Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with mental retardation by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies has grown from one chapter on one college campus to a vibrant, international organization involving 30,000 participants this year on more than 650 high school and college campuses in the United States, Canada, Egypt and Greece. Best Buddies also is fortunate to enjoy broad support from personalities in the sports and entertainment fields, including Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Spacey and Muhammad Ali.

Dan Werbin, Volvo President and CEO observes: "Our commitment to Best Buddies and its cause, which crosses all diversity borders, is long term and offers great possibilities for development. Volvo prides itself on being a brand with human values, and clearly the work of Best Buddies in enhancing the lives of these special individuals is a most natural cause for us to support."

Although usually perceived as a group unto itself, the vast majority of people with mental retardation are not severely retarded, and given encouragement and the opportunity, can become productive members of their communities. To further this objective, Best Buddies has successfully developed a number of programs including e-Buddies® and Best Buddies Jobs, which secures integrated employment opportunities for people with mental retardation.

Best Buddies Founder Anthony K. Shriver reflects, "The vast majority of these individuals are fully capable of driving, and given the support of Best Buddies and an industry leader such as Volvo, this most important step in their lives can become a reality. We look forward to developing a variety of such programs with Volvo in the next few years of our partnership."

Volvo recognizes the obstacles people with mental retardation face and is committed to this new partnership to ensure that Americans might focus on the abilities of individuals rather than their disabilities. By helping establish national programs, Volvo is fostering an environment where people with mental retardation will have improved self-worth and achievement.

''We were surprised to learn that more than 53% of people with mental retardation in the United States have no friends and really desire one to help them bridge the gap to the community at large. Volvo wants to help make sure that people with mental retardation are active participants in their communities - as they should be,'' said Thomas Andersson, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Volvo. ''Despite the strides on this front, we wanted to close the gap between people with mental retardation and the rest of society. We developed this partnership as a starting point in providing a whole new world for some of the 7.5 million U.S. people with developmental disabilities who often have no friends and could still be further integrated in the community.''

In just twelve years, Best Buddies has become the world's largest program dedicated to creating friendships between persons with and without mental retardation. For people with mental retardation, Best Buddies is a lifeline to the joy of having and being a friend, going to parties and music festivals, playing sports, improving reading, writing and computer skills, and finding a job.

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Goteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to Volvo automobile retailers in the US, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The 2002 Volvo automobile line includes the sporty S60 and S60AWD sedans, flagship S80 luxury sedan, the versatile V70 wagon and the rugged Cross Country, C70 coupe and convertible, and compact S40 and V40 models.
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