VIRGINIA BEACH -- Hannah Ellenbecker of Chesapeake got fitted for her life jacket Saturday at the Oceanfront and couldn't wait to make use of it.

Her father, Joe Ellenbecker, explained why.

'Because it's a day where its' all about her and everybody comes out and makes sure the kids are taken care of, and the parents and older siblings can relax and enjoy a terrific organization,' Ellenbecker told 13News Now.

A couple hundred autistic children and volunteers were in the water, making the annual Surfers Healing event a success.

It started in California 15 years ago and, now, takes place in 22 cities.

Founder Izzy Paskowitz knows the magic of the water and what these days mean to parents.

'You know, to do this, maybe we can go to breakfast, maybe we don't have to worry about people looking at us,' Paskowitz said, referring to the break the event gives parents. 'We are going to kind of tighten our belts, and live through this Autism thing, and make that child, like my son, Isaiah made me a better person.'

William Young is autistic. He's been part of the Surfers Healing before, and he wouldn't miss it.

'He loved it. He loved it. He had a smile on his face the entire time, even when he was struggling with the surfers,' said Williams' mother, Lori Young.

'This day is special because we get to socialize and be around other families with the same challenges, and it's nice to know we are not alone,' said Ellenbecker.

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