This week I was able to sit down and interview Life Rolls on Foundation’s founder, Pro Surfer and motivational speaker, 32 year old Jesse Billauer. After spending some time talking to him it became abundantly clear that he is a “glass half full” kind of guy with the energy to go along with it. We talked about his accident, how it has affected his life and what he would like for himself in the future. Here is a recap of what was said during the interview:
For those not familiar with Jesse, prior to March 25th, 1996, he was a healthy man with a head full of dreams and a surfboard under his feet. At the time he had already been named one of the “Top 100 Surfers to Watch” by Surfer Magazine. Then tragedy struck during a surfing trip to Zuma Beach in California. While doing what he loved Jesse was thrown head first into a shallow sand bar and the resulting impact rendered him a quadriplegic. The accident did not deter the pro surfer; it merely made him search harder for his next wave. That next wave came in the form of starting the Life Rolls on Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with the effects of spinal cord injury. Many young men dealt such a life altering blow would not have responded in the same way, but not every young man has what Jesse has; ceaseless drive, a passion for others and a strong support system.
The after affects
I asked Jesse what the most challenging thing has been for him since that fateful day in March and he told me that “everyday life” brings him challenges but he gets through them with the help of his father George and others. Jesse elaborated on the matter, stating “Without my friends, family and Caregiver Raul I couldn’t be the inspiration that I am today. I am only as good as the people I surround myself with.” Despite his physical condition Jesse continues to surf competitively at such events as the U.S. Open of Surfing and counts Honda, Hurley Wetsuits and Al Merrick among his top sponsors. He has won several awards over his pro surfing career including a Lifetime Recognition Award through the Malibu Surfers Association.
When I asked Jesse where he sees himself in the future he responded that he would like to continue his work with Life Rolls On, his surfing career, get married and possibly raise a family. In addition to his foundation work, Jesse also has his own clothing line, which he sells online along with his video “Jesse’s Story.” He also talked a lot about his father George, who he cites has “always been there for him” and credits him as being the person he admires the most in this world. As we were closing out the interview I asked Jesse if he could only be remember for one thing what would he want that one thing to be? His response was “I want to be remembered as a genuine, authentic person.” Considering he is already that, I believe that he will get his wish.
My children are skateboarders and I have a history of following action sports.
More from this contributor:
Skateboarding industry legend Eric Swenson passes away: A fan’s tribute to a legend
Craig Stecyk interview: My conversation with a skateboard industry legend
An interview with skater Andy MacDonald
Felipe Lima interview: My conversation with the skate film maker