PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Jessie Billauer turned his love of surfing and tragedy of losing his ability to walk into putting smiles on people’s faces.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports Billauer was preparing to become a professional surfer in 1996 before he was thrown off his surfboard headfirst into a shallow sandbar in Malibu, California, and broke his sixth vertebrae, which made him a quadriplegic.

Not wanting to give up his love of surfing, Billaeur found another way to ride the waves and in 2015 he became a world champion in adaptive surfing. He now wants to share that love of adaptive surfing to others.

Saturday morning at the Horace Caldwell Pier in Port Aransas “They Will Surf Again” made its way back to South Texas. The free adaptive surfing event was hosted by Life Rolls On, Adaptive Driving Access and Braun Ability.

Billauer, the founder and executive director of Life Rolls On, said he believes events like his are huge for those dealing with disabilities.

“Life Rolls on” is a nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by spinal cord injuries.

People with disabilities often stay home and feel down and out,” Billauer said. “These events bring hope and inspiration to the community and let people get out of their wheelchairs to get to try something new.”

Billauer said the people get to try something new and think outside the box when it comes to adaptive surfing.

“They get to have a little freedom and have fun,” Billaeur said. “They almost don’t feel disabled for that time they get to surf.”

The event gave people dealing with paralysis the ability to ride the waves in a fun and safe way.

Barbara Ramirez, who is paralyzed, loves every time she has the opportunity to have more freedom away from her wheelchair.

“Some people set limitation” Ramirez said. “But the only limitations are the ones you put in your own mind.”

With this being her first time surfing in open water she was happy the organizations and volunteers were to make the event happen.

Hundreds of volunteers attended.

“These events couldn’t happen without volunteers,” said Billauer. “These volunteers are just as important as the organization. It’s amazing on a weekend people are giving their free time to help out.”


Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

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