The Down syndrome Association of Atlanta (DSAA) Honors Frank J. Murphy with the Lifetime Achievement Award Oct 3, 2013

Frank J. Murphy was honored in September with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Down syndrome Association of Atlanta (DSAA). The DSAA also recognized volunteers, supporters, and community heroes during the 2nd Annual Buddy Breakfast at the beautiful City Club of Buckhead. Exceptional Parent (EP) Magazine was represented by Dr. Rick Rader, this publication's Editor in Chief, at the event.

The DSAA Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals for long-standing service of at least 15 years and exceptional dedication to the Down syndrome community, and to the special needs community as a whole. Founded in 1979, The Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta (DSAA) is a 501 (c)(3), Georgia-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing individuals with Down syndrome and their families life-long community connections.

Murphy was born in Louisville, KY on August 28, 1937. In 1959, he married Yvonne Fitzpatrick, who passed away in 2002. Together, they had seven daughters— Laura Anne, Janice Lee, Mary Patricia, Joan Marie, Sandra Lynn, Julia Catherine and Karen Suzanne—and 23 grandchildren. Their youngest, Karen, who has Down syndrome, was born in 1976. She graduated from North Springs High School with honors. Frank Murphy graduated for the University of Louisville as a Mechanical Engineer in June 1959. Through the years, he had been affiliated with Western Union Company in Chicago, the Bristol Company, the Hayes Corporation, and then Milton-Roy Corporation. In 1969, he left the corporate world to start his own business.

As for the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), Murphy started out by being elected to the Board of Directors in 1978. He was on the Board from 1978 to 1980, served as Treasurer from 1980 to 1983; then Second Vice President from 1983 to 1984; and First Vice President from 1984 to 1985. He then served as President from 1985 to 1988; and as Past President from 1988 to 1990.
Murphy was asked to take over the office of Executive Director in 1991, where he served until 2002. During that time, he moved the National office from Chicago to Atlanta, GA.

During his tenure as Executive Director, Murphy was active in the enactment of the national legislation commonly referred to as the "Education of the Handicapped Act (94-142) (IDEA)". It was during this time and thereafter that he participated in a consortium of several disability groups regularly meeting in Washington, D.C., to help make changes and suggestions to the various acts dealing with the education of people with disabilities. All through his stint as Executive Director, he assisted various Senators' and Congressmen's staffs, educating them on the best practices for education and health for individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Murphy said, "Many of my trips took me to the National Institutes of Health, mainly the Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD). I made regular trips to Washington to meet with various staff members to keep them focused on issues affecting people with disabilities. We were not focused on 'handouts'; we just wanted to make sure our people received their legal and lawful position in the general population."

Debbie Currere, a longtime friend and colleague of Murphy, said, "In his 17 years of traveling to Washington, DC, his focus always remained speaking for people with Down Syndrome! He was openly welcomed by many Senators and Congressmen as he brought them information on disability issues that they could trust. He also was on the advisory committee of the NICHD by invitation of Dr. Felix de la Cruz and Dr. Duane Alexander. . .Frank has committed his life since Karen was born in 1976, to advocating for individuals with disabilities with his passion for individuals with Down Syndrome."

Following his stint with the NDSC, Murphy took over the reins of the EP Foundation for Education, Inc. (EPFE) as President and CEO (EPFE)—and continues in that capacity to this day. The EPFE's goals and objectives are to put in place programs leading to the education of parents and professionals in the newest and best practices and the delivery of services to its constituency. The EPFE has co-sponsored several general conferences centering on various aspects of the lives of people with disabilities.

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