Please click here to vote and help Lorri donate $100,000 to the Autism Academy of South Carolina!

I’ll always remember one of my first bills as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. A bill commonly called “Ryan’s Law” that was the first step in providing assistance to families in South Carolina with autistic children, and as of today, more than 30 other states around the country!

Were it not for Lorri Unumb, this never could have happened!

Lorri (who lives in Lexington) is one of only four finalists nationwide for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by the NASCAR Foundation.

Please take two minutes to watch her video above and VOTE for Lorri and Ryan’s Law . Your vote(s) can help her win the award and see her donate $100,000 to the Autism Academy of South Carolina !

For more information, read today’s story in The State

Additional information from NASCAR.com/award:

For the past 25 years Lorri Shealy Unumb has impacted thousands of children with special needs. As a mother of three, Lorri was deeply impacted when her oldest son, Ryan, was diagnosed with severe autism in 2003 and was devastated to learn that her insurance would not cover the cost of treatment. As a result, the 44-year-old Lexington, S.C., resident founded the Autism Academy of South Carolina, a non-profit organization that she now manages.

Driven by the thought of other families that could not afford the treatments, Lorri who was a law professor at the Charleston School of Law at the time, took action and drafted a bill in her home state of South Carolina to require insurance companies to cover treatment for children with autism. Through a grassroots campaign, the bill passed in its second year of consideration and “Ryan’s Law” went into effect in mid-2008. The bill has led 31 other states to enact autism insurance reform laws.

Lorri and her husband, Dan, also saw a need to improve community- and school-support programs to meet the needs of kids like her own. Once again, they took matters into their own hands and set out to build a state-of-the-art autism school. In August 2011, after three years of research, fundraising and recruitment, the Autism Academy of South Carolina opened its doors.

The Unumb family are NASCAR enthusiasts and attending Darlington Raceway races is a family tradition. During college, Lorri won the title of Miss Southern 500 and spent a year representing the sport at Darlington-based races. If Lorri wins the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, she will donate the $100,000 to the Autism Academy of South Carolina.