LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Stephanie’s Day is almost here!
This Saturday, June 21st, the fourth Stephanie’s Day will be held on the CBS Studios lot (4200 Radford, Studio City, 91604). Admission and parking are free. The event goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event was started by CBS2 and KCAL9 President and General Manager Steve Mauldin in recognition of his daughter Stephanie.
Stephanie’s Day is a resource fair that provides families with children affected by autism and other special needs. It is one place to gather valuable information, enjoy fun activities, food, music and more. In year’s past, kids were able to sign up for special events, meet the CHP and celebrities (many from the CBS2 and KCAL9 family), explore a fire truck, dance, do exercise and make friends.
This is the fourth year Stephanie’s Day has been held at the CBS Studios, but its roots go back more than 15 years. Mauldin’s daughter Stephanie was diagnosed with autism when she was very young.
Stephanie Mauldin is the literal event ambassador; she greets everyone, usually with a hug.
The event is important to her and Steve, of course.
He recently spoke to CBS2’s Health Reporter Lisa Sigell about the impact of the day, what it means to his family and what it means to the community.
Like most proud dads, he also spoke about what his daughter brings to the event.
“The love that she’s brought to us and the love that we’ve been able to express to her, boy, it’s brought our family together in so many ways,” Mauldin says.
Stephanie was born happy, an angel in her parents eyes. But by 2 years of age, it was evident she wasn’t progressing like other infants. She had trouble crawling, eating, talking.
Steve and his wife, Sheilah, began looking for answers.
By 5, Stephanie was diagnosed with autism. The family says it’s a journey filled with love but also many challenges.
At the time, there weren’t many resources or places to turn for parents wanting answers. Mauldin changed all that.
“There wasn’t a lot out there. There weren’t places s to go with our kids, and there weren’t places to go for information and families to get together,” remembers Mauldin.
The program has been a rousing success, and families eagerly await Stephanie’s Day each year.
“It’s about families like ours and it’s about hopefully treatment and intervention that makes these kids and families lives better,” Mauldin says, “and the coolest thing about it, is that a family will inevitably say it’s the only place they can go where they feel totally comfortable. No one is going to make fun of them. They’re going to be welcome, and it’s a day about them.”
More than 50 organization take part — some of the best schools, therapies, social and intervention programs in the area.
“It’s a day of celebration on many levels, but it’s also a day where I believe that any family that comes there is gonna leave having more resources than they had before they got there. And maybe more understanding and definitely more friends.”
Stephanie, now 24, is a Special Olympics athlete in track and field. Her dad says she also had a great throwing arm.
“I don’t know where she got that from,” he smiles, “She may be the best athlete in our family.”
Last year, over 5,000 people attended Stephanie’s Day.