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Salt Lake City mayor to declare Nov. 3 as Kim Peek Day

Published: Monday, Oct. 31 2011 3:46 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ralph Becker will honor the Utah man who inspired the film "Rain Man" by declaring Nov. 3, 2011, as Kim Peek Day.

The mayor's proclamation coincides with the presentation of the inaugural Peek Award for Disability in Media — honoring a subject, director or actor in a film who has helped to shape the perception of disability in society.

Peek, a Salt Lake City native, used his fame from the 1988 film to increase awareness of disabilities through the media and improve education for children with special needs.

Scientist, author and lecturer Temple Grandin, the subject of the 2010 Emmy-winning biopic, will be the first recipient of the Peek Award.

Barry Morrow, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Rain Man," will present the Peek Award to Grandin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. Broadway.

Morrow also plans to loan his Oscar to O.C. Tanner, which will display the statuette in a specially designed case at its world headquarters, 1930 S. State. Peek carried the statuette with him during his travels and lectures to more than 60 million people around the globe.

Peek died of a heart attack Dec. 19, 2009, at age 58.

"Kim Peek and his father, Francis Peek, worked tirelessly as advocates for children with special needs and to promote respect for differences among us," Becker said. "Salt Lake City is honored to be the home of the Oscar, generously loaned by Mr. Morrow, as a fitting tribute to Kim Peek's contributions."

Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, has an ability to "think in pictures" and makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum. She's considered a philosophical leader of animal welfare and autism advocacy.

"Temple's story has helped us so much in dealing with the times that people tell us all of the things that our son will never be able to do," said Jessica Kerr, a Utah mother of an 11-year-old with autism. "Her story has helped our other children to see that people with disabilities can do amazing things in life and have the ability to change the world."

A free screening of "Temple Grandin" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Salt Lake City Main Library, 410 S. 200 East. Grandin will be on hand for a question-and-answer session following the film.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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