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Updated Oct 2, 2013 - 5:59 pm

Valley woman receives recognition for her work in autism

PHOENIX -- Mary Ann LaRoche began SEEDs for Autism in honor of her late brother, Paul, who was autistic. The years of dedicating her life to teaching autistic adults skills they can use to aid them in their independence has not gone unnoticed by one organization.

Members of Royal Neighbors of America surprised LaRoche with a check for $2,500 on Wednesday.

The organization focuses on "protecting women financially and empowering them to improve their lives, families and communities."

"It's great to be part of this presentation, [to] be a part of SEEDs for Autism and to have an impact on the lives of so many young people," said Michael Torrenti of Royal Neighbors of America.

A blacksmith by trade, LaRoche gathers volunteers in the arts, special education and business to teach participants how to create useful items which can be sold for profit, often the first real pay these young adults have ever received.

LaRoche says the grant awarded by Royal Neighbors will be put to great use.

"We have a shoe-string budget, so this will allow me to buy more tools and supplies for our young adults so that they can continue doing the great work they are doing," she said.

About the Author

Sandra moved from the small border city of Yuma, Arizona to study Broadcast Journalism at Arizona State University in the late 90s. Since graduating, she's worked at several local TV stations including Univision, Fox 10 and 3TV.

Working at KTAR, has allowed her the opportunity to cover major national news events, including Presidential visits, the Tucson Tragedy and the Wallow fire.

When Sandra isn't covering breaking news or behind a microphone in the studio, she's probably at home with her best friend Mark and her two dogs, Lily and Lola.

Sandra enjoys cooking and admits to enjoying "really bad" reality T.V. She also enjoys spending quiet time at home with people she loves, playing a little poker and traveling.


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