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STUDIO CITY (CBS) — Steve Mauldin is the President and General Manager of CBS2/KCAL9, but first and foremost he is a dad and one of the biggest joys in his life is his daughter Stephanie.
“Stephanie is the greatest thing that’s happened to our families,” he said. “She’s a gift, she’s truly a gift.”
Stephanie seemed to be born a happy, healthy baby, progressing like other infants, but then things changed.
“Up until 2 everything was fine and then she started crawling backward and began to get a little more withdrawn, not as outgoing,” Steve recalled.
She was diagnosed at an early age with autism. Right away Steve and his wife, Sheilah, started looking for answers.
“We wanted to find the best treatments, the best doctors for Stephanie and that’s what we began to do. We’ve never stopped trying to do what was best for her,” he said.
Stephanie is now 22, but back when she was diagnosed, there were not as many resources as there are now. So about 14 years ago Steve created Stephanie’s Day in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It has and continues to be a valuable resource fair to help inform and connect families of children with special needs — primarily autism.
“These people are really there so that families know there are different agencies all over this community that are in one place for that day, where they can find out how to make their child’s and their family’s life better,” Steve said.
Now the event is coming to Southern California where more than 50 organizations will come together on the CBS Studio City lot to spotlight some of the best therapies and intervention programs available. The subjects covered will range from nutrition to sports programs to job training for teens and adults.
“One of the booths that will be there will be Best Buddies. Best Buddies is like a mentor program in schools for kids who have special needs. Kids who don’t have special needs volunteer for Best Buddies and they take these kids to movies, they take them to dances… Stephanie loves her Best Buddies friends,” Steve said.
This is a day of learning, as well as fun with plenty to do for kids. There will be prizes, entertainment and so much more. Plus Stephanie will be there to greet you.
“One of the great things about Stephanie is she’s very sociable, so anyone who comes to this event, she’ll want to come up and meet and see everyone,” Steve said.
A big part of Stephanie’s Day is also the chance to connect. There will be a networking area to meet others dealing with the same issues.
“If you go as a parent and meet other parents and you’re able to share some information about a resource or experience, it’s a day well spent,” Steve said. “I’m real excited about it. It’s made such a difference for families over time and I’m so happy we are able to bring it to Southern California.”
As for Stephanie, she is doing great. She just completed her last year of public school and soon she will be transitioning into other programs, no doubt bringing that smile and joy wherever she goes.
“We just want her to have the best life possible as every parent of a special needs child does.”