BELMAR NJ — Thousands of people are expected to converge along Belmar's oceanfront on Sunday, September 10 for the 13th Annual Beach Bash hosted by Autism Family Services of New Jersey.

Billed as the largest gathering of its kind in New Jersey for individuals with autism and their families, the free event will encompass the Seventh Avenue beach with a wide array of activities to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Autism Beach Bash presents an opportunity for the autism community to gather in support of  one another, to challenge society's boundaries and, most importantly, to enjoy a day on the beach  free of judgment," said Bret Vaks, executive director of Autism Family Services of New Jersey. The event includes an activities tent, arts and crafts, a giant waterslide, beach and carnival-style games, and entertainment provided by a DJ.

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A highlight of the day will be a surf camp with Surfer's Healing; a nonprofit group specializing in working with children with special needs. Throughout the day, children will get the opportunity to ride in a wave with a professional surfer from the California-based organization.

Also, there will be an exhibition tent featuring local and statewide services and resources for individuals with autism. According to a 2012 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 41 individuals in New Jersey are affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Lunch will be provided free to all registered families by various food sponsors, including Belmar First Aid, Surf Taco, Whole Foods Market and Stop & Shop. Also, crucial to the day's success is the services provided by the Belmar First Aid Squad, including its key beach location, first-aid tent, security and more, according to event organizers.

This year's sponsors include: Surfer's Environmental Alliance, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health, Stop & Shop, United Healthcare, Amerigroup, Supernus, NJNG, Colton and Friends, Belmar Fishing Club, CAI and AT&T Pioneers. Through the support of these sponsors in offsetting costs, the event can continue to be offered free to the autism community in New Jersey.

Last year's Beach Bash attracted more than 7,000 attendees, while more than one-half of this year's pre-registered families will be new to the event. Families will also be attending from nearby states including Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Rhode Island.

To register for the Beach Bash, visit www.autismbeachbash.org or call Autism Family Services
of New Jersey at 1-877-237-4477.

Founded 2004, Autism Family Services of New Jersey is dedicated to ensuring a better quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism and related disorders throughout their lives. The Trenton-based nonprofit organization offers programs such as respite care, as well as after-school and recreation programs. For more information, call 1-877-237-4477 or visit www.autismfamilyservicesnj.org.

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