Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Perfect Day: Surfers Healing 2013

Our fourth Surfers Healing experience with the Surfers Healing VB crew.

Our second Surfers Healing VB 5K experience.

Our first race without Ashton's best friend and favorite Team Hoyt VB pusher, who is away at college.

All of that equalled one amazing experience, literally, One Perfect Day.

One. Perfect. Day. 

That was the theme of this year's Surfers Healing experience. August 17, 2013 did not disappoint. Nor did the night before either. On August 16th, there was an amazing Welcome Luau for the surfers of Surfers Healing on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Amazing food, great entertainment (the boys enjoyed watching the dancers) and the opportunity to connect with members of the Autism community is always a major plus. Meeting the Surfers and reconnecting with some of our favorites from years past is always a blessed moment. We trepidatiously watched the weather forecase all day and were overjoyed when the Surfers Healing VB folks decided to go ahead with the luau.

Happy Boys prior to the Luau....
We arrived at the Oceanfront for the luau and immediately started running into friends that we knew. The boys were starving,  and were so ready to eat dinner. Luckily, shortly after we got there they started serving food and the dancers and entertainment started. The girls looked beautiful in their costumes and were wonderful dancers.

Then the introduction of the surfers took place. Ashton was thrilled to see his past favorites, Kalani Brown, Kalani Kahalioumi, and Izzy Paskowitz as well as meeting some of the others. 

I knew I was in for a treat when Ashton started wondering around looking for his favorites, wanting to say hi. What a little social butterfly he's become! He was thrilled to see both Kalani's as well as seeing Izzy again. It's always heart-warming to see how these "big surfer dudes" interact with this amazing population of children and families. 

Ashton and "little" Kalani Brown
I was shocked Ashton remembered that this was "little" Kalani upon seeing him!
Kalani had surfed with Ashton on his second time out last year and Ashton loved it.
One of those heart-warming moments that shows Ashton is "aware" and not just plodding through life.
Ashton and the man, Izzy Paskowitz
Always a pleasure to see how Izzy relates to these kids. Izzy's way of connecting with these kids and getting eye
contact from even the most stubborn of kids. He even complimented Ashton in his "good talking" and social skills! Izzy even asked Ashton where his sunglasses were! He remembered that conversation from a
couple of years ago! Amazing considering the number of kids Izzy comes in
contact with every year. Thank You for remembering!
Ashton, the 'blue surfer' Kalani Kahalioumi and Holden
Kalani was Ashton's first surfer back in 2010. He is one of those special souls that Ashton just connected with,
at a time that he didn't easily connect with strangers, or even those outside of his immediate family.
Fortunately, we consider Kalani an extended member of our family now and we even exchange
holiday cards and such at Christmas. Ashton was also thrilled to realize he's nearly
as tall as Kalani now! You know, priorities! :)
We left the luau after meeting new friends, connecting with some previously "Facebook-only" friends and having seen some old friends from various Autism groups and running groups that we're a part of. Ashton even found a little-bitty cute baby that he absolutely adored meeting. He went up and introduced himself to baby Jacob and his family. What was so sweet was the interaction between Ashton and this family. Blair and Jacob, thank you for being so understanding with Ashton's impulses and letting him give the baby kisses and hugs. I've only heard about Baby Jacob about a million and one times since we met you on Friday (hahaha), and Ashton has loved seeing your pictures on Facebook. I'm so glad Aydin had a wonderful time surfing! What a little cutie pie she is!

It was interactions like that one, that lets me know that we've got an amazing and supportive autism community in this area. People are so understanding and forgiving. Not many people would take too kindly to this big 14-year-old boy running up to them and wanting to impulsively touch their baby and give them kisses.

We left the luau with the promise of waves and a fun time the next morning. Ashton was super stoked for the Surfers Healing 5K race and then to surf again. Home for meds, bedtime and packing out stuff up for a fun day at the beach the next day.

I was only slightly worried about how Ashton would do in this first race with Marc being away at college. Fortunately, Marc had helped arrange for his friend, Amory Langley, to push Ashton in this race. I later found out it was a mutual decision between Marc and Amory for this to work out, and for that gentlemen, I am grateful. It helped would could have been a traumatic experience for Ashton, be very pleasant and a lot of fun. Also pushing Ashton in this race was Michael Davis, a fellow Team Hoyt VB runner and dear friend of ours who had pushed Ashton with Marc in last year's Surfers Healing 5K race.

Ashton and Amory, pre-race
Amory, Ashton and Michael, pre-race
Fortunately, nothing could dampen the excitement surrounding the Team Hoyt VB group on Saturday morning the 17th, not even the cool, windy and dreary looking weather. This was to be Amory's first race with Team Hoyt VB and his excitement was a bit catching! Ashton had an amazing 5K race thanks to Amory who finished with a time of 22:58 and also with Michael who finished with a time of 23:37. Amory wanted to make a final push for the finish line so him and Ashton crossed the finish line without Michael. The look of determination on Amory's face was kind of hilarious, seeing as how I'd never really gotten to see him run before. I can see now why he and Marc get along so well. Two peas in a pod those two. David and Holden also ran this race and finished with times of 47:21 and 28:23, respectively. Impressive times by all of them!
Nearing the finish line - Way to run!
Team Ashton ROCKS!
Holden nearing the finish line! As always - perfect form! :)
David, smiling after walking his 5K this time around.
Not sure I'd be so happy after a 5K, even if I was walking!
Then it was time to scope out our place on the beach. We had my inlaws (hubby's parents and his brother) as well as Amory hanging out with us, and a little later, Ashton's former teacher would arrive to hang out as well.

Ashton got his baby fix - baby Jack!!! :)
He didn't even mind sharing his hat with Jack :)
Ashton's surf time was scheduled for 10am and it wasn't long after we got settled that they started calling for Group 3, 10:00am surf time kids. Following in Marc's footsteps from last year, Amory led Ashton over to the line of kids to wait and get his life jacket on.

Ashton had a blast hanging out with Amory!
Ashton decided once again to surf SOLO! This always freaks me out a bit initially, and slightly disappoints, only because when he's asked a question, he nearly almost always answers yes. I know he'd enjoy surfing with someone steering him through the waves probably even more than he does surfing alone. But, he was determined, so off he went, and went he did. He had a BLAST!

hand in hand, he walks off with a volunteer
quick lesson before he gets in the water

A quick little video of Ashton surfing..... :)

Then, I came across this amazing image of Ashton surfing, from Danny Holland, a local professional photographer. This image is actually copied off his Facebook page, so it's not the greatest of quality, but that winning smile makes it my absolute favorite image of Ashton surfing, ever!

Thank you Danny for capturing this amazing picture!
Thank you again to Mr. Christian and Ms. Sonya for assisting Ashton in the water
and making his second solo surfing experience so enjoyable and fun!
That was it. Ashton had a blast! His fourth experience with Surfers Healing had been his best one yet. His first race with Marc being away had went off wonderfully due to Amory's willingness to step in for Marc and with Michael's help, Ashton had a great 5K. His social growth was apparent, his connections with people was apparent and he just had a blessed and wonderful time. 

We're number 1! Hanging out at Tini's frozen yogurt bar. 
But that wasn't the end of his day.... oh no, there was still a surprise in store for him! Marc and Ashton got to Skype Saturday evening, the first of what I'm sure will be many such conversations while Marc is away at Georgia Tech. Just the interactions, even over the computer was so cute and typical of these two. We met Marc's roommate, Andrew (hope I got that right! lol) and Marc's girlfriend, Kaylie. But what warmed my heart, more than anything, was how Ashton and Marc gave each other double high 5s over the computer, just as they would normally do in person. So sweet. Ashton was excited to see and talk to Marc and luckily Marc took Ashton's constant jumping up from the computer very well. After we got done talking to Marc and hung up from the Skype call, Ashton kept looking over at my computer to see if Marc was still there. So cute.

One perfect day. One day away from judgement. One day where Ashton could be as impulsive as he wanted to be and no one would stare. One perfect day with friends, new and old. One perfect day, racing with his favorite group of people. One perfect day surfing. One perfect day of summer.

Yes, it was quite simply, One Perfect Day.


  1. I linked your post with mine - loved your pictures!

  2. How awesome. I had the child who had a melt-down waiting to surf and attempted to take a board into the water herself this year :). Her surfers from previous years were not there this year but we had such a blast.

    1. Eh Kristen - meltdowns happen. :) It's a fact of life for many of us spectrum families as you already know :) Yours wasn't the only one (I heard many!) but I've been there before and know what that feels like.

      LOVE that she attempted to take the board into the water by herself - little miss independent! :)


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