Rolling on in LA
In 1996 Jesse Billauer was injured in a surfing accident and rendered a quadriplegic. Not exactly keen to give up riding waves, Jesse and his family began Life Rolls On in 2002, their sole goal to raise awarness and money for spinal cord research. They've come a long way since then. In 2009 a documentary, "Jesse's Story," was released and promptly won the Best Documentary award at the Malibu Film Festival, as well as the Audience Award at San Diego Film Festival. This year the non-profit merged with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and last week on October 17, LRO hosted its seventh annual Night By The Ocean fundraising banquet at the famed Beverly Hills Hilton.
Initially started as nothing more than a golf tournament to cover Billauer's medical costs, it's been a long road to get to this point. Shortly after his injury, with the help of friends like Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Bob Hurley and others, Billauer got back on the board and started to surf again. This eventually led to Billauer starting an organization called They Will Surf Again (TWSA), the goal being to help others get back to surfing despite their injuries. After hosting over 30 TWSA events, in 2002, the IRS officially recognized LRO as a non-profit organization, and so what began as a small family effort has turned into, literally, a global phenomenon.
But for all the good LRO has done over the years, they still require money to keep all their various programs rolling, and that's where Billauer's Night By The Ocean comes into play. A star-studded affair, there are live and silent auctions, and all proceeds go back into LRO. Plus, it's a chance to recognize some of the people that have made all of this possible. And this year it was Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member the Honorable Mark Ridley-Thomas, Warrior Poet frontman Morgan Spurlock and surf industry magnate Bob Hurley that had praises heaped on their shoulders. The event is led by Honorary Co-Chairs Brooke Burns, Scott Caan, Jane Seymour and Robin Williams.
According to the LRO website, every year 6,700 American youth have their lives drastically altered by spinal cord injuries, but thanks to Billauer and all of the tireless effort and contributions of those around him, there's hope.