Humanitarian Award Winner Inspiring, ESPN.Com). Lorri Shealy Unumb is an Autism Light for the multitude of ways she helps the cause of autism through her advocacy and forward vision. Besides being a mother, her autism legacy includes three major areas. She is the author of Ryan's Law, a South Carolina Autism Insurance Law; the co-founder, along with her husband Dan, of the Autism Academy of South Carolina; and the Vice-President for State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks.
Ryan's Law: Lorri Shealy Unumb authored an autism insurance bill that was called Ryan's Law in honor of her son. Her passion was to help South Carolina Autism families who didn't have the means to give their children autism treatment. The South Carolina House and Senate passed Ryan's Law on June 7, 2007, by overriding then Governor Mark Sanford's veto (South Carolina Autism Insurance Bill Passed, Autism Speaks News). Ryan's Law made South Carolina one of the first states in the United States to mandate health insurance cover autism treatment.
The following is a news feature on Lorri Shealy Unumb's efforts to pass Ryan's Law by WBTV3 Charlotte.
Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award: Here is a video where Lorri Shealy Unumb was a finalist in 2012 for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, which is given to a NASCAR fan who gives back to the community. She won the 2nd Annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2012 and designated the $100,000 award to go to the Autism Academy of South Carolina, the autism organization she founded in honor of her son Ryan (2013 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, NASCAR News).
The Autism Academy of South Carolina (AASC) was born out of a vision to enhance the educational options that exist for children impacted by Autism in South Carolina. After searching the country in 2009 for "best practice" educational models, the founders, Lorri and Dan Unumb, decided to make it their mission to create an alternative education option that utilized the principles of Behavior Analysis to not only provide exceptional services for learners, but to also serve as a community resource for those impacted by autism (Autism Academy of South Carolina, About Us).
Autism Speaks: Lorri Shealy Unumb serves as the Vice President for State Government Affairs with Autism Speaks. In her role she travels extensively and aims to replicate South Carolina's autism insurance mandate in other states. In the five years since Ryan's Law passed, over 30 states have passed similar laws. You can watch a YouTube video of Lorri Shealy Unumb speaking in Missouri in support of autism insurance legislation.
Advice to Parents: Lorri Shealy Unumb gave this advice for autism parents in a message to Autism Light on July 28, 2013.
Take it upon yourself to educate those around you about autism, and assume that people want to help. They just don't know what to do. I certainly wouldn't have known how to be helpful to an autism family before my son was diagnosed. Assuming people want to help has been my philosophy in approaching the legislators I've worked with, and I've considered it my job to inform them about autism and what they can do (Lorri Shealy Unumb-7/28/2013).