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Big Crowds Highlight ‘Stephanie’s Day 2013′

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STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of kids and their parents took part in the annual “Stephanie’s Day” celebration Saturday on the CBS Radford lot in Studio City.

More than 50 organizations — including Best Buddies, CHP, the Dodgers, LA Fire Department, Autism Speaks and First Step For Kids — took part.

Stephanie’s Day was started 17 years ago by CBS2 and KCAL9 President and General Manager Steve Mauldin for his daughter Stephanie, now 22.

Addressing the large crowd, Mauldin said, “These kids were sent to us for a reason.”

Stephanie’s Day is a resource fair for families with special needs. Stephanie has autism — as ambassador of the event, she greets everyone with a hug and a smile.

CBS2’s Joy Benedict reported from the event and talked to many families who were happy such a fair exists.

She said, “With all the balloons and finger paints and food and fun, the CBS Studio lot looked more like a carnival.”

Youngster Owen Dupuy, said it best, “This is a special event!”

Owen has special needs. His father told Benedict, when his son shows an interest in something, they go.

Roger Dupuy said, “His favorite thing is watching the news, CBS2 News and the weather. And he said, ‘Dad, I wanna go to Stephanie’s Day'” Owen got to meet CBS weatherman Kaj Goldberg and even offer him some tips on the weather.

Owen’s dad was impressed by the event. “The handlers, the parking people, everybody. They’re just treating us with a different kind of respect we don’t usually get.”

Steve Mauldin started Stephanie’s Day with people like Owen and his father in mind. “When Stephanie was diagnosed at 2, there wasn’t much knowledge then and very little help. There was no place to go with your kids like this.”

Benedict reminds this resource fair isn’t just about having fun — although it’s kind of hard to beat the trampoline or face painting or the adorable therapy dogs. There were more than 50 booths on hand so that everyone could take something home.

John Fitzgibbons, a dad, said “I saw a horse therapy booth. I had no idea people even offered that.”

In additional to the professionals, the day is also about parents helping other parents.

Randy Viloria, a father, said “It helps a lot! We’re able to find different avenues, different information. Ways we can help our son.”

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