2017 Winner - KultureCity
Julian Maha, an emergency room physician, founded KultureCity in 2013. The organization seeks to improve the lives of children with autism while also educating society about the inclusion of autistic individuals. Maha has a vested interest in the organizational mission. He has a non-verbal autistic son.
A native of Malaysia, Maha came to Montgomery, Alabama as a child to live with his sister, who attended Auburn University of a tennis scholarship. Living near Talladega Superspeedway in true “NASCAR country”, he has inevitably become a NASCAR fan.
Maha serves as the volunteer president of KultureCity and has led the development of their Sensory Initiative, which addresses sensory inclusivity in locations such as arenas, stadiums and other public settings. As autistic children are prone to wandering, KultureCity also has developed the lifeBOKS program to help families monitor the movements of their children through GPS and Bluetooth tracking devices.
Maha’s Sensory Initiative program has been utilized at the Birmingham Zoo and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and by 12 NBA teams and two NFL teams. Funds received from the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will help fund the Sensory Initiative and the lifeBOKS program, enabling families to receive the lifeBOKS list at no cost.
“For me, the biggest thing about NASCAR, is that everyone gets together and they create what is almost a community over a race weekend. It’s an amazing display of enjoyment of a singular event and an amazing display of unity. People from different backgrounds, different demographics. It’s everything that’s great about America.”