Life Rolls On comes to Hawaii!

Life Rolls On is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected with spinal cord injury. Founded by paralyzed surfer Jesse Billauer, LRO continues to push the possibilities through their amazing events. After attending my first They Will Surf Again last September, I felt it would be great to have an event back home in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Home of gorgeous beaches and tons of aloha. I took on being the event leader for They Will Surf Again – Hawaii and was focused on making their first trip to Hawaii a successful one. It started with pulling permits, which was done by my mother and was quite the challenge. Thank you to the US Navy for allowing us access to White Plains beach. Once that was done, it was off to plan the fundraiser and event itself. Whoa… that was a bit challenging since I have ZERO experience with event planning or fundraising, so this was completely new to me.  I started by doing a little video on my niece Maile ( you can watch it by  clicking here) followed by numerous emails, calls, texts and messages. I emailed all my friends, colleagues and businesses that I thought could be of assistance. I reached out to many people and was able to connect with quite a few people and companies willing to participate and assist in making this event a successful one. I personally walked into all the local hospitals, rehab centers and surf shops dropping off flyers with my darling little niece Maile surfing. The response was incredible. I called Noel Pietsch, one of the partners from Wahoo’s Kahala in hopes of hosting our fundraiser there. And, that’s where we held it on Friday 4/29/11.  We had over 70 prizes ranging from $25 to over $700 in value. Some of the prizes included an autographed surfboard from the cast of Hawaii 5-0, a Las Vegas package with travel and hotel accomodations, local goodies, gift certificates, board shorts, bags, hats, t-shirts, sanuk slippers, sports memorabilia and so much more! It was awesome.  We had a great crowd and as tired as I was, I could not fall asleep with the anticipation of the actual They Will Surf Again event.

Saturday 4/30/11 was surf day at the beach and the weather was PERFECT. I felt so proud to be apart of a wonderful organization and to see the event finally come together was magical for me. Plain and simple. I have poured my heart and soul into this project and to see it come together so beautifully was incredibly rewarding and gratifying. Upon arriving to White Plains beach, I took a moment to soak it all in and say a little thank you prayer for allowing me to be apart of such a great day. I then grabbed my gear and started shooting away. Thank you Aunty Miki and Aunty Nif for assisting me throughout the day and following me around with my cameras.:-)

Once everyone checked in, they went to their designated areas for a team meeting held by awesome land leaders: Robin, Joann, Quynh and Tina. Once briefed everyone got together for a beautiful prayer and blessing by our Kahu, Manu; who blew his conch shell to open our day and bless everyone. Two of the youngest surfers; Hunter, age 5 and Maile, age 4 were amongst the first to hit the waves. Both children were born with spina bifida and are unable to walk… however, fully capable of surfing!

Breakfast was provided by Leonard’s Bakery, Ba-Le, Starbucks. Yeah, malasadas is king! LOL  Drinks provided by Function Water and Lulu’s Waikiki. Lunch provided by Lulu’s Waikiki, Duke’s Waikiki and Panda Express. Blessing of the beach by kahu Manu Mook, music provided by Local Uprising. My family was instrumental in assisting me make this a huge success, including many of my friends, colleagues and local businesses throughout the local community. This event would not have been possible without all the support from many, so thank you everyone for helping me make Life Rolls On first trip to Hawaii a success. The support and love I’ve gotten was overwhelming and so appreciated. MAHALO.

Some of our sponsors were: Ty Gurney Surf School, Hyatt Regency Waikiki, US Navy, Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Las VegasHawaiian Island Creations, Star Beach BoysWahoo’s Kahala, Barefoot League, High Status Hawaii, Jams World, Surf N Sea, Tanioka’s, Rainbow Drive Inn, Augie T,  Laird Hamilton, Roy’s Restaurant, Walmart, Target, McDonalds, Franco HarrisKurt Suzuki, Shane Victorino, Access Surf, Rehab of the PacificPretty Sweet Custom Cakes,  Hypersquad Dance Company, My2 Fish custom cards, artist Luvi Lewis, Mana Kai Beach resort, Trader Joe’s, Rudy’s Flower Shop, Hawaii Photo Rental, Sanuk Slippers and more.

A big mahalo to all the volunteers who came out and helped. Everyone was instrumental and key to making this They Will Surf Again a great one. On behalf of Maile and my entire family…. MAHALO to all. Me Ke Aloha!!!

Please watch a little slideshow below by clicking play on the lower left corner……

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  • Camille Edwards - Awesome pictures of this awesome day!!!!

  • mommy - There are no words for my expressing what I just viewed. Just a flow of tears,
    How EXTRAORDINARY the captivation of all…..Just amazing, how beautiful, needless to say, “Fantastic, wow-wow-wow, you are the greatest photographer, and I can vouch it
    after all—–I am the photographer’s mother….I LOVE YOU

  • Mama Goose - Ohhhhhhh My!!!!!

    That whuzzzzzz soooo AWESOME! Excitement, Anticipation, Soul searching, and life rewarding. As a volunteer, the entire experience of LRO TWSA Hawaii 2011 was incredibly humbling and heartwarming for me. The participants not only inspire me to help others, but the journey gave me the gift of pure joy.

    GREAT JOB COUSIN!!!

    I LOVE YOU MORE!!!

    mama goose

  • Joyce Poe - I can hardly type for the tears. Thank you dear friend, for the joy of the occasion. You are amazing and I am grateful. Maile is so beautiful and you have captured her and Dave so beautifully.
    Love and hugs, dear one.
    Joyce

  • Joyce Poe - Okay, now I watched the video. WONDERFUL, and the music OMG. Thanks again. Much love and appreciation
    Grandma Joyce

  • Merv - Gayla: You did a tremendous job photographing everyone on the beach that day. I got to watch a true professional pro do her expertise shooting pictures. We all went to eat Filipino food on Tuesday and missed having you there since you had to fly out the day before. Congratulations on a super job emceeing at the Wahoo restaurant also. I am sure next year will be even better. Love, Uncle Merv.

  • JoAnn Inamasu - Great job in capturing a very special day for all of us! A beautiful day…spectacular event…with warm smiles all around us!

  • Petko - What an amazing event!!!!! Thank you so very much for all the love support from everyone who made this a reality this was such a blessing to be a part of and i am so looking forward to more events in the future it all came together in such a positive way ! it may have been some of the best surfing i have ever done and i dont think i stood up on one wave!!!i think i can say i now can say i understand the aloha spirit in such a diffrent way mahalo to all my hawii family!!!!!!!!God Bless

  • Petko - PS Gayla you are amazing and beyond talented and i swear im not jealous even a little bit

  • petko - Pss sorry for my lack of grammer Hawaii thank God i can Draw

  • Barbara Yasuhara - OMG! I love you for doing this!!! I am always so touched by your fusions too! Mahalo for making a huge difference in the lives of these children and people! Maile on the board is beyond words for me, I am touched beyond belief! YOU are my new hero!

  • Calvina - So dang proud of you, Gayla! Looks like it was a success!

  • John Hopkins - Just to be part of this event was so amazing and full filling and emotional. I am so grateful to be able to help all those wonderful people to surf again. can’t wait for the next one, which you can count on me to be there as one of the volunteers. Great photos and thank you for sharing. Love you, cousin John

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