FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - The kids may be back in school and the first day of fall is less than a month away, but Folly Beach was packed all day today for a very special event.
"I'm ready to surf today," 15-year old participant Ross Hicks said.
Surfers Healing started with around 25 kids in 1996. Twenty years later, more than 5,000 kids across the country line up to ride the waves, specifically those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.
"The kids are capable of more than what they think they are," Surfers Healing instructor Adam Paskowitz said.
At Surfers Healing, they don't worry about treating the thousands. They worry about teaching each surfer one at a time.
"I think all of us, when we get into the ocean, tend to reach an equilibrium," Paskowitz said. He believes being on the water has healing capabilities. "There's a connection to the ocean and if a real expert takes you out there on the water, it can be really therapeutic."
Kristin Covington is one of those surfers.
"Kawabunga," the nine-year old yelled!
"Hopefully she'll become a little surfer baby," Kristin's mother, Renee Covington, said.
The event came at no cost. Everyone involved in Surfers Healing is a volunteer.
"All this is free," Paskowitz explained. "It's a true moment where someone steps out of their environment and says, you know what, I'm going to make an impact on the world."
"This whole thing has blown me away," Renee Covington said. "I never that it was as big as it is and all of the things that they do for people."
The goal of the event is to have fun and raise awareness about autism.
"Autism is probably one of the biggest, misunderstood type of, I don't even want to classify it as a disability because it's not. I think that they're perfect the way that they are but as much awareness as possible is great," Renee Covington said, holding back tears.
For more information about how you can volunteer, donate or participate in this surf camp, visit SurfersHealing.org.