Introduced in December 2002 by Volvo Cars of North America (VNCA), the Volvo for life Awards became the largest-ever national search for and celebration of everyday heroes. Since 2002, VCNA received more than 10,000 nominations from all 50 states, provided more than $1 million in awards and contributions in honor of heroes, and more than $5 million to help hometown heroes continue their extraordinary work in their communities.
Throughout the summer, we will re-tell six heroes’ amazing stories of inspiration and fill you in on what they’ve been up to since Volvo named them America’s Greatest Hometown Heroes. Here is the third of six Volvo for life Award winners that we will be checking in with over the next few months.
In 2005, Hope Bevilhymer, a resident of West Jordan, Utah and founder of Limbs of Hope, was named America’s Greatest Hometown Hero and grand prize winner in the 3rd Annual Volvo for life Awards. In recognition of her extraordinary work helping amputees improve their quality of life, Bevilhymer was awarded $50,000 for her charity and a new Volvo every three years for life.
Born with bilateral clubfeet, Hope Bevilhymer by age 25 had undergone more than 29 unsuccessful surgeries and was taking 100 Tylenol a week to manage her pain. Faced with the decision to either amputate one leg from the knee down or to undergo additional surgeries, she chose to amputate. Soon after her surgery, Bevilhymer received used prosthetics from people who thought she could use them. About the same time, she saw a documentary on African and Laotian refugees who were land-mine amputees unable to afford prosthetic limbs. Realizing the connection, Bevilhymer created the Limbs of Hope Foundation, which collects prosthetic limbs to give to people in developing countries.
“The Volvo for life Award had a tremendous impact on Limbs of Hope,” said Bevilhymer. “Before we won the award in 2005, Limbs of Hope had provided 55 prosthetic limbs to people and traveled to one country. After the award, we were able to use the money and awareness to donate more than 5,000 prosthetics to amputees in Cambodia, Romania and Hungry, who otherwise would have spent the rest of their lives missing limbs. Because of the publicity and funds, we were able to help so many more people in so many more countries.”
While Bevilhymer has taken a step back from Limbs of Hope the past few years to attend to personal and health matters, she has several future goals for the organization. Bevilhymer is an accomplished drummer and played the Warp Tour with her band, Chopstick Sidekick Tuesday, and would like to combine her passions to host a “Limb Fest,” an all-day music fest celebrating all kinds of music for amputees and their families to enjoy. Long term, she would like Limbs of Hope to have a presence in a majority of countries across the world.
Bevilhymer still gets stopped on the street and asked, “Are you that Volvo girl?” Bevilhymer laughs and says “Yes!” and proceeds to tell them about the Volvo for life Award and her charity.
Bevilhymer feels lucky to have received the first version of the Volvo models she’s driven. In 2005, her first Volvo was an XC90. It was dark, grey metallic and she named her XC90 “Monster” because it could climb through anything, especially all the snow Utah gets. Bevilhymer would sometimes try to make the XC90 slide and it never would. “It’s the perfect car for a Utah winter!” she says.
Her second Volvo car, the XC90 Sport, was her favorite. She named it the “Silver Bullet” because it was fast and very sporty. She named her current Volvo, a black S60, “Ninja,” because “it has saved us so many times. Drivers tend not to see other cars and with the S60’s easy maneuvering we have managed to elude many collisions.”
“Everybody asks me about my Volvos, especially the S60 sedan, which I get a lot of compliments on,” Bevilhymer explained. “People often stop me if I’m out washing it or running errands and ask how much I paid for it. It’s another opportunity for me to share my passion for Volvo and for Limbs of Hope!”
About Limbs of Hope
Founded in October 2003, the Limbs of Hope Foundation is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of those affected with limb loss, with particular concentration on individuals in developing countries. Their various projects include the collection and purchase of prostheses, both new and used, for distribution to those with need; providing funds for improvement of existing rehabilitation clinics as well as the foundation of new clinics; and the provision of recreational opportunities for those with disabilities. Camp Amp, a summer camp for both child and adult amputees, hosts workshops and activities to serve physical and emotional needs.
Even while on hiatus, Limbs of Hope still hosts its annual Thanksgiving “Hope 4 A Dinner” and Christmas events, and also provides prosthetics to soldiers to take with them overseas to give to amputees. Bevilhymer is also still accepting prosthetics and donations for when she is back full-time.