Families living with autism treated to day at the water park

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DRAPER, Utah – A non-profit organization rented out a local water park Monday night to give families with children with autism a massive pool and pizza party.

Autism Journeys hosted the event, which they called the Aloha Autism Summer Luau.

Wiley Hall was at the event, and he said he had a blast.

“It's really great,” he said. “I'm so glad for all these autistic kids to be here. I even have autism myself, and I'm like really comfortable in water.”

Sara Jones was also at the party, and she said she loved treating her little sisters to a day at the water park.

“My sister's birthday is today, and then this autism thing popped up in my mom's email, and I'm autistic, so we decided to come here for the birthday party,” she said.

Kate Andersen, Autism Journeys founder and co-president, said the event was worth the hefty price tag it carried.

“It was a very expensive venue for us to rent, but it was worth it given the opportunity it provided families,” she said.

Andersen said they wanted families living with autism to have the chance to relax without worrying about standing out or being disruptive. Andersen said people were eager for that chance.

“We thought we would have 200 to 400 in attendance here,” she said. “We actually had to cap it at 900 for the safety of our guests. We could have had up to 1,500 people—we have over 200 families here.”

Wiley Hall’s mother, Melanie, said it was nice to be with people who understand her son, autism and all.

“Just like all people have problems, they have problems and they have strengths,” Wiley said. “They have different strengths and weaknesses.”