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Autism center selects Rep. Ron Stephens for award
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Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, shakes hands with Matthew Reardon Center for Autism student Leila Boulware while Darren Lazare and Kevin Parker look on.

Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, was at the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism on Nov. 2 for the announcement that he is the recipient of the Marie McGaughey Childhood Philanthropy Award due to his long history serving as a champion for Georgia’s children, particularly those with developmental disabilities like autism.

“Ron was a natural pick for this award," said Kim Reardon, founder and director emerita of MRCA. “He is always ready to lead the fight for positive change in this community.”

The award will be formally presented at the 2019 Autism Conference at the Savannah Convention Center on March 1.

“Ron has been a consistent and effective advocate for quality healthcare and access to vital support services for children with autism and other developmental challenges,” President and CEO Patti Victor said.

Stephens represents the 164th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. He is the chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee and has served in the House for 21 years. He is also a member of the Appropriations, Rules, and Ways and Means Committees.

“Ron has a long history with the Matthew Reardon Center,” Victor said. “It was very moving to watch him as he toured our wonderful new facility and met and talked with students. Ron was a champion for us when we started 18 years ago in a few clinical rooms, later when we moved to carved-out office space and, now, as we begin a new era of serving southeast Georgia’s autism community in this beautiful school setting.”

Stephens is a graduate from Armstrong State and Mercer University with a degree in pharmacy. He and his wife, Janice, have two daughters, Karen and Ashlin; two grandsons, Walker Reese and James “Beau” William Dukes IV; and one granddaughter, Ivey Carolina.

MRCA operates southeast Georgia’s only accredited year-round day school for children with autism. They have provided advocacy and outreach services to more than 900 families across southeast Georgia and have hosted professional training and instructional opportunities for more than 4,500 family members, educators, health professionals and self-advocates.

The center is located in the former St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School at 11500 Middleground Road, Savannah. For more information, visit or call 912-355-9098.

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Matthew Reardon Center for Autism Board Chair Sue Adler, left, MRCA President Patti Victor, St. Francis Cabrini Pastor Fr. Gabe Cummings and state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, gather recently at the autism center.
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