I first learned about Life Rolls On a few months ago when my 3 year old niece Maile participated in the World Record for moving wheelchairs sponsored by the Christopher Reeve Foundation at the LA Dodger Stadium. You can see my blog post by clicking here. Life Rolls On was founded by surfer Jesse Billauer, who became a quadriplegic while surfing in 1996. The organization’s goal is to get public awareness about Spinal Cord Injury. Life Rolls On or LRO is simply amazing. Period. When I met CEO Kris Nakamura, she told me about an event they have for those individuals with spinal cord injuries and wheelchair bound individuals called They Will Surf Again. Ironically, Maile had recently mentioned she wanted to go surfing, which seemed like it would be quite the challenge and a pretty big dream, since she is wheelchair bound and is unable to walk due to her Spina Bifida. Little did we know that They Will Surf Again would make her dream come true and give her the avenue to do what she wanted….SURF! I inquired more about it, got in contact with Kris from LRO and had my sister-in-law, Irene register Maile. I too offered my services to capture the day for volunteers and participants. Fast forward a few months to 9-11-10 and little Maile was in the water on a surfboard!
Everyone had to register by 8am at La Jolla Shores Beach. And, there wasn’t a peep of sun in the sky. Instead it was a little foggy and a bit overcast; and, let’s say that the water was….. uh… freezing! However, that didn’t stop us from having an incredible day. Being surrounded and around such great people made it feel like it was 100 degrees! 5 teams were created and each surfer would have 30 minutes in the water. Volunteers would wheel the athletes to the shore in special mobi chairs, carry them onto the surfboard, assist them out and help them catch some waves on special surfboards that allowed surfers to hold on. What I witnessed was priceless. Simply amazing. To see the joy and happiness on everyone’s face (surfers, families and volunteers) was a gift that I could never buy. In fact, it was the greatest gift you could ever ask for. Oh, my heart was smiling so big, I think it came out of my chest! It was purely magical. I would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you volunteer to any future event. I promise you, you will feel so fulfilled and really feel amazing. It’s incredibly rewarding and so gratifying to witness the happiness and joy on these beautiful faces.
Maile was assigned to team orange and scheduled to surf at 11:0o. She had to gear up with a bathing suit, followed by a wet suit, then a life vest, and topped off by her team orange jersey. When she was done, she looked like a fullback for the Oakland Raiders, ready for the big game! :-=) She is so tiny and her size 2 wetsuit was a bit big for her, but she was so anxious and excited to get in the water, she didn’t care about the layers and layers of attire on her little body. You could hear her saying, “I WANNA GO IN THE WATER!”. When it was her turn, all the volunteers carried her above the water like a princess, turned her around and let her ride a wave in. Maile doesn’t like water in her eyes, so we weren’t sure how well she would handle the splashing. I mean a little water from the bathtub could really put a her in a mood. But, after her first wave, she seemed fine, so they carried her out again and again and again. She caught about 7 waves before she came in. It was so cool. So cool….
Lunch rolled around and everyone took a break and had some good eats that included sandwiches, BBQ, chips, rice, salad, short ribs, teriyaki chicken and Ben Jerry’s ice cream. Yum, yum! Soon after a quick lunch break, it was back in the water for the remaining surfers, who were lucky enough to catch some of the sun that decided to pop out during the last 30 minutes!
The event was so well put together and possible by so many incredible volunteers and sponsors and organizers. A cute surf boutique shop Surf Diva in La Jolla came by and handed out some cute surf diva hats and donated 20% of all sales taken in at their surf shop yesterday to LRO. Give it up for Surf Diva!!!
I’d like to give a special thanks to:
Lastly, a big MAHALO to all the volunteers who made this event possible. Thank you for being such incredible people and for giving such an incredible gift to those that are less fortunate than us. Your time, efforts and support is so appreciated. Thank you for fulfilling my niece’s dream of surfing and for allowing her such joy. Your actions will never be forgotten. Thank you!!! And, to those that donate to Life Rolls On, your donations allow LRO to put on such great events and help countless individuals and families across the world. Much blessings to you all.
It was such an amazing day and I look forward to working with LRO more in the future. LIFE ROLLS ON ROCKS!
To see more photos, click play below: