During Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas, Lorri Shealy Unumb, creator of “Ryan’s Law”, was named the recipient of the second annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
As a mother of three, Unumb was deeply impacted when her oldest son, Ryan, was diagnosed with severe autism at a young age; she then learned that insurance would not cover the cost of treatment for children with autism. As a result, the 44-year-old drafted a bill – now known as “Ryan’s Law” that has been enacted in 31 other states – to require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism. Unumb also founded the Autism Academy of South Carolina, a non-profit organization that protects the interests of children with the disability and helps families affected by autism.
The NASCAR Foundation’s donation of $100,000 will be used to create a scholarship fund to assist children who would otherwise not be able to attend the Autism Academy.
Unumb, a 44-year-old native of Lexington, S.C., and former Miss Southern 500 Pageant winner, was chosen from a group of four finalists by a national fan vote on NASCAR.com. Through this award, The NASCAR Foundation honors passionate NASCAR fans making an impact with children in their local communities and reflecting the commitment Betty Jane France has demonstrated with her charitable works and community efforts.