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IKEA ANNOUNCES WINNER OF “LIFE IMPROVEMENT SABBATICAL CONTEST”
Sun Jan 30 00:00:00 UTC 2011
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[National]  Kyria Henry (Round Hill, VA) to Receive $100,000 to Advance paws4vets™ Project and Share Her Experience with the World
CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (January 31, 2011) – IKEA, The Life Improvement Store, announced today the grand prize winner of its Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest: Kyria Henry of Round Hill, VA. After a month-long, online public vote, Ms. Henry has won a year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000) to improve the lives of others through her paws4vets program, and over the next year, will share her experience online at www.thelifeimprovementproject.com. Additionally, IKEA is donating $46,844 to Save the Children’s U.S. Programs, $1 for every vote cast in the contest.

Understanding that people have a desire to be a positive force within their community, IKEA kicked off this unique contest last fall to give one deserving winner the opportunity to pursue their passion of helping others. The contest had nearly 2,000 entrants and more than 46,000 votes were cast by the public for the five deserving finalists, including the winning entry, Ms. Henry’s paws4vets program (www.paws4vets.org), which trains and pairs service dogs with veterans needing assistance.

“We commend all who participated in this contest, as it has been truly touching to see the passion and commitment so many have to improve the lives of others,” says Leontyne Green, Marketing Manager, IKEA North America. ”We look forward to helping Kyria to advance her endeavor and to share her story with the world to inspire others.”

In 1999, at just 12 years old, Ms. Henry founded paws4people foundation, and later in 2008, the paws4vets program. The contest prize will bring more resources to the program, providing psychiatric service dogs to assist retired and active-duty military veterans as a tool to ease emotional, physical and psychological traumas and help them return to civilian life.

“I am truly humbled by the voters’ response to paws4vets in the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest,” says Ms. Henry, Founder, paws4vets. “The cause is near and dear to my heart and this prize will help the organization extend our reach to more of those who could benefit from our programs.”

In addition the year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000), Ms. Henry will also receive a trip to a spa resort in Phoenix, AZ to participate in a one hour life coaching session with O, The Oprah Magazine's life coach Dr. Martha Beck. She will also be featured in advertorials in the April and July issues of O, The Oprah Magazine. The public can also continue to follow Ms. Henry throughout the year as her project is chronicled on www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

IKEA is also awarding a $1,000 IKEA gift card prize to the four finalists in the contest: LaJuana Moser (California City, CA) of bags4kids, a program giving personal care products, toys and other necessities to foster children in California; Ralph Johnson (Hempstead, NY) a science teacher helping to bring the wonders of science to students in New York communities; Philip Filner (Lutherville, MD), a retired scientist looking to renovate an unused greenhouse to help Baltimore’s Northwestern High School’s students; and Elizabeth Woods (Waxhaw, NC) of Soul Windows, a support group and online community of resources, forums and retreats for others experiencing loss.

IKEA launched the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest as part of the company’s Life Improvement Project, an initiative designed to educate, inspire and empower people to improve their lives at home, as well as the lives of others in their community. In addition to the contest, the national program consists of a series of free Life Improvement Store Seminars for consumers, hosted in IKEA stores across the U.S. and a Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge to provide $10,000 each to support five winning community projects suggested by teams of IKEA employees (co-workers) across the country. This challenge gave IKEA co-workers the opportunity to win additional funding and support for a local charitable organization/cause of their choice. Over 63 entries from 37 stores were received, and the winning entries that received the most number of co-worker votes were:

• IKEA DRAPER (Salt Lake City, UT): From the Ground Up Community
• IKEA DRAPER (Salt Lake City, UT): Helping our Homeless Find the Road Home
• IKEA COSTA MESA (Orange County, CA): IKEA Starts a New Ending
• IKEA ORLANDO (Orlando, FL): Parramore Kidz Zone
• IKEA NEW HAVEN (New Haven, CT): The LIFE HAVEN Project

For more information on The Life Improvement Project, visit www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

* The grand prize winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work. If the grand prize winner chooses to take leave from employment to work on their project, they can utilize a portion of the prize toward living expenses.

ABOUT IKEA: The Life Improvement Store
There are currently more than 300 IKEA stores in 38 countries, including 37 in the U.S. Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings company, has offered home furnishings and accessories of good design and quality at prices so low that the majority of people can afford them. TIME Magazine listed IKEA as one of the top 8 most global eco-conscious companies. IKEA incorporates sustainable efforts into day-to-day business and continuously supports initiatives that benefit causes such as children and the environment. For more information, go to IKEA-USA.com.