Women Who Make a Difference!!!

ALL women make a difference.  Some make more of a difference than others and, sometimes, the difference made isn't positive, unfortunately. 

Today I'm writing about one particular woman who has made a tremendous difference in a very positive way. 

After church today, I went by the post office for the first time in a few days, and there was my very first issue of TOWN AND COUNTRY magazine.  Even though it's only January 10th, this is the February issue, and it features Cindy Crawford on the cover.

I quickly flipped through the pages, because I knew this issue was paying tribute to specific women who have had an extremely positive impact on others.  Finally, I found what I was looking for on page 44:

That woman is my baby sister, and she's one of my heroes - AND she's one of four women honored by Longines in TOWN AND COUNTRY as "Women Who Make a Difference."

Here's the introduction in the magazine: 

At Longines, "Elegance is an attitude."  It reminds us that grace, style, and soul are the qualities that make a women elegant.  Nowhere are those traits more on display than when a woman devotes herself to making a difference in someone else's life.  The following four women are the epitome of elegance.  They champion those less fortunate and tirelessly work to make this a better place to live.

The four who are recognized are these: 

1)  tennis star Stefanie Graf as the founder of of Children for Tomorrow, an organization which helps children and families who are victims of various kinds of violence; she is the Longines Ambassador of Elegance; 

2) Deloris Jordan, mother of basketball great Michael Jordan, as founder of The James Jordan Foundation, which supports academic opportunities and academic excellence through several of its programs; 

3) Leila de Bruyne, founder of Flying Kites, an organization which provides care for Kenyan children who have been abused, orphaned and/or abandoned; and

4) Lorri Shealy Unumb, my above-pictured hero.

And because she is, of course, my favorite honoree, I'm sharing what was published about her, for fear of doing too much gushing on my own:

Lorri Unumb is the driving force behind Ryan's Law - the single most influential piece of legislation for families living with the hardships of autism.  Lorri's son Ryan was diagnosed with autism in 2003.  Early in their journey, Lorri learned that insurance companies did not cover treatment for autism.  Lorri, a practicing lawyer, soon began her historic battle with insurance companies and state governments to get autism treatment covered.  Her first victory was in her home state of South Carolina, where insurance companies are now compelled to pay for the treatment of autism.  

Lorri has played an active role in changing legislation in other states, and today 15 states have enacted their own versions of Ryan's Law.  In 2008 Lorri joined Autism Speaks as its senior policy advisor and counsel, a role in which she supports and advises other activists in this worthy cause. 

Lorri and the many, many volunteers she recruited worked hard for over two years to get Ryan's Law passed in South Carolina.  Then, when it was finally passed, Governor Mark Sanford vetoed it!  Once again, Lorri and troops rallied; the House of Representatives voted unanimously to override the governor's veto!!   As of former state legislator, I know that it is very unusual for a legislature to do much of anything unanimously and almost unheard of for a legislative body to override a governor's veto unanimously.

During this same time period, she was voted "Professor of the Year" by the student bar association at the Charleston School of Law and was honored with the Jefferson Award by The Post and Courier, Charleston's daily newspaper.  All the while, she was traveling to other states to help with legislative efforts in those places AND she and Dan added to the family with Christopher and then Jonathan. 

If you ask me, Lorri should have been on the cover instead of - or along with - Cindy Crawford! 

I used to take care of Ryan a lot.  This collage shows several pictures of us together. The second photo is a close-up of Ryan a few years ago; the third is about two years ago at Jonathan's baptism, then one of Lorri and Ryan, followed by shots from the Autism Walk in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/ for more information about autism.

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Will Shealy said...

Absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing that!

Sandee said...

You have every right to gush. I would too. What an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming story that is so near and dear to your heart.

Have a terrific day. :)

The Retired One said...

How wonderful! Congratulations to her and her family. You must be so proud.
She sounds like a wonderful woman.

Iris Silk said...

You have every right to be proud of your "little" Sis. What an amazing woman!

Iris Silk said...

You have every right to be proud of your "little" Sis. What an amazing woman - and mother!

Syd said...

Wonderful Sherry. Your sister is an inspiration.

Margaret Hall said...

How absolutely marvelous~!! Congratulations on her being recognized! I am sure that you are quite proud....

Rebecca Ramsey said...

She IS impressive! Gush away!

kayerj said...

How nice!

Corrie Howe said...

This is awesome too! Thanks for sharing this story about your sister. I'm going to bookmark it with my other autism resource stories.

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