Autism Academy founder wins NASCAR humanitarian award - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Autism Academy founder wins NASCAR humanitarian award

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Lorri Shealy Unumb with Betty Jane France (Source: NASCAR) Lorri Shealy Unumb with Betty Jane France (Source: NASCAR)

LAS VEGAS, NV (WIS) - A Lexington woman who has been a voice for kids with autism has been honored by NASCAR as humanitarian of the year.

Lorri Unumb was presented with the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas Friday.

Unumb founded the Autism Academy of South Carolina to provide a place of learning for kids in the Midlands with autism.

"It is hard for me to express what this gift from the NASCAR Foundation means for the Autism Academy of South Carolina," Unumb said.

"This financial donation will give us the footing to build on our services and reach more children in need," she said. "We are so thankful for the awareness and recognition that The NASCAR Foundation has created for us and are grateful to everyone who voted to make this a reality."

The award includes $100,000, which will create a scholarship fund to help kids who may not be able to afford to attend the Autism Academy.

Unumb was also behind Ryan's Law, which requires insurance companies to cover the cost of autism treatment. 31 states, including South Carolina passed the law.

"Lorri Unumb's story is one of devotion to a child and dedication to a cause," France said.

"She certainly is a most-deserving winner of our second annual award. Lori absolutely personifies what this award is about – and embodies The NASCAR Foundation mission. We are all so very proud to have her as our second recipient, as we know she will continue to fight for the rights of families living with autism."

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