Paddle boarders gathered in Newport Beach on Sunday for an event meant to raise awareness about the condition of autism in hopes of making the world a better place for those living with it.

A neurological condition that can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status, autism manifests during early childhood and remains a condition that most people know little about.  

Organizers with the nonprofit Autism By The Sea hosted the “Paddle for Autism” event, in which those attending paddle boarded around Balboa Island.  

“A lot of people don’t really understand what autism is,” said Debbie Painter, president and founder of the organizing nonprofit. “Back in the ‘70s, you would find 1 in 10,000 people diagnosed with autism. Now it’s 1 in 39 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism. When my kids were diagnosed with autism, it was hard to find a parent to talk to about how to deal with this…now it’s more open. We have come a long way with understanding and inclusion, but we have a lot more work to do.”  

KTLA 5 Photojournalist Phil Ige reports.