Jesse Billauer" 2023 Honor Roll"
He's not just a champion on the waves; he's a champion in life
Jesse Billauer, a name synonymous with courage and resilience, is an adaptive world surfing champion who has defied all odds to become an inspiration to millions. Born on April 25, 1979, in Santa Monica, California, Jesse's formative years were spent riding waves with friends and developing his competitive act.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Jesse Billauer
An aspiring pro surfer during an era super charged with talent, Billauer’s life took a dramatic turn when, at the age of 17, he suffered a life-altering accident wipeout at Zuma Beach. Getting throttled headfirst into a sandbar, he suffered a tragic spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. A devastating blow that shattered his dreams, Billauer’s true character would be put to the ultimate test.
Determined to overcome his physical limitations, the L.A. surfer embarked on a journey of rehabilitation and adaptive sports. With the support of his family, friends, and the surfing community, he refused to let his wheelchair confine his stoke and surf spirit.
Founding the Life Rolls On Foundation in 1999, Billauer was determined to create a platform for transforming tragedy into triumph. The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people affected by spinal cord injuries through the healing power of adaptive surfing and skating. Through various events and programs, the foundation empowers individuals with disabilities to defy their limitations and experience the freedom of riding waves or rolling on wheels.
“Jesse is an absolute legend in the surfing community. His resilience and positive attitude are infectious, and he continues to inspire us all. He's not just a champion on the waves; he's a champion in life,” describes 11-time world champion and friend Kelly Slater.
Billauer’s personal journey of resilience and the impact of his foundation has touched countless lives over the years. An advocate for accessibility and inclusivity, he continues to work tirelessly to create a world where everyone can have the opportunity to pursue their passions, regardless of their physical abilities.
“Jesse’s dedication to making a difference in the lives of others is unparalleled,” tells surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark encounter when she was young. “He has turned his own personal tragedy into a catalyst for change and empowerment. His work through the Life Rolls On Foundation has touched countless lives and serves as a beacon of hope for people with disabilities around the world.”
With his foundation rolling (pun intended), most recently Billauer’s pulled on the jersey once again and proved himself to be a formidable competitor. The winner of multiple ISA (International Surfing Association) world titles, his status as a dominant force in the sport is undeniable. With his adaptive board and unparalleled wave-reading abilities, Billauer’s ability to showcase his talent on a global stage inspires both able-bodied and adaptive surfers alike.
As the founder of Life Rolls On Foundation and a decorated adaptive surfer, Billauer continues to leave an indelible mark on the sport of surfing and the world at large. His story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of one’s passion.
In the face of adversity, Billauer has shown us that the human spirit is unconquerable. Through his foundation, he has not only helped individuals with spinal cord injuries find healing and empowerment but has also inspired a global movement of inclusivity and acceptance. His remarkable achievements both in and out of the water serve as a reminder that the only true barriers in life are the ones we allow ourselves to believe in.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Jesse Billauer