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 Vegas, Hawaiian Island Creations, Star Beach Boys, Wahoo’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 Harris, Kurt Suzuki, Shane Victorino, Access Surf, Rehab of the Pacific, Pretty 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……