Jesse Billauer – Inspiration Hollywood
I first met Jesse Billauer almost 15 years ago at a party in LA. His beautiful face, warm smile, and funny personality pulled me in immediately. Jesse is one of those magnetic people whose energy glows around him drawing you in, he radiates happiness and emits a positive vibe – I think in Hollywood they refer to it as, STAR quality. Over the years I have bumped into Jesse many times and I decided that there is no one more inspirational to share with you for my first ‘Inspiration Hollywood’ post then, Jesse Billauer.
The year was 1996, Jesse was ranked in the top 100 junior surfers in the world – he was one month away from turning Pro – when an accident happened that forever changed his world.
At that time, Jesse lived in the Palisades, but attended school in Malibu. He liked to surf before school, and on March 25th – like every other day – he was at the beach getting ready to hit the waves and hone his skills. He told me that it was a beautiful warm morning, the waves were about six to eight feet high, and he was the first one out on the water that day. He caught a wave, but the wave barreled and hit back, and he ended up going head first into the wave and hit his head on a sand bar. His limbs went numb and he was tingly, he knew something was wrong, and he called out for help. His friends thought he was joking around because he was in shallow water. All he knew was that he needed to keep his head above water or he would drown. Finally, his friends realized he was in distress and pulled him out of the water. He ended up being airlifted via helicoptered to the hospital.
Jesse’s neck broke at the 6th vertebrae. One minute he was standing on his surfboard – the world his own ocean of possibilities – and a few hours later receiving a quadriplegic diagnosis that he would be unable to move his 4 limbs. He was devastated; his life as he knew it – stopped.
Jesse went from being an independent athlete who travelled the world surfing, to a 24 hour a day dependent person. His recovery was several months where he had to relearn everything from brushing his teeth, to feeding himself. He said he felt like he was a little kid again.
For many people, Jesse’s story would have ended here. But not for my ‘Inspiration Hollywood’ guy.
Jesse embraced his life, like he always had, and with the help of the surf community developed adaptive devices so he could still enjoy surfing and skateboarding. This led to him starting his own foundation called ‘Life Rolls On’, with the dream to inspire people living with spinal cord injuries that there is a life beyond paralysis. His organization currently helps hundreds of thousands of people, and hosts ‘epic’ events all over the world where other paraplegics can learn to surf and skateboard.
I asked Jesse how he managed to have such a great attitude, and how he overcame so many obstacles that many would have not endured so successfully. He said that he always surrounds himself with friends, family, and people he loves. And speaking of love, not only did Jesse not give up on living his life to his fullest potential, he also did not give up on love. One night when he was coming home from an event, he met a girl in the elevator of his building, he started to chat her up and turned on his ‘Jesse charms’; and now he and Sam – a financial advisor – are married.
Jesse’s has not only made his personal life a fulfilling success, his ‘Life Rolls On’ Foundation is a worldwide success. He continues to be a sponsored surfer – and in 2015 – won the Gold Medal at the ISA Adaptive World surfing championships. In addition, he is a highly sought after motivational speaker.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of his life altering accident, and as he has manage to accomplish so much and garner so much success, I asked him what his secret was to staying positive throughout this challenging 20 year journey. Jesse told me that every day, he wakes up and finds something to look forward to in life. It might be something as simple as watching his favorite TV show, making plans to go surfing, planning to see a movie with a friend, or watching a sunset – but he finds something each day to look forward to and be grateful for. He also said that in order to lead a positive life, we need to appreciate our life and not complain about it. Instead inspire, be patient, be honest, be genuine and don’t forget to live your life and to give back.
I asked Jesse if he had any advice he could pass on, any words of inspiration from a man whose entire life is one big inspiration, and he said: “Always realize that anything is possible.” “Always follow your dreams.” “Don’t be afraid to initiate life.” “In relationships realize that it’s a give and take, life is not just about taking, and not just about giving, but about reciprocation. And Don’t be afraid to be a big time giver.” And if you do all of this, according to Jesse Billauer – “It will all be fun!”
So I wondered where he saw himself in 30 years, and he said “Looking out at the ‘ocean view’ from my home, watching my kid winning a surfing contest.”
Well Jesse Billauer, I think many of us out there could learn a few lessons about living life from you. It is so easy to get bogged down in our own personal crap, and forget that this life that we have, truly is a gift. I hope that the people who read this story will find inspiration, guidance and strength from Jesse’s story, and listen to his sage words of advice: Enjoy every day, find beauty in what is around you, be grateful, be giving, be loving, and as Jesse said….It will all be fun!
If you would like to Share Jesse’s Story, please forward on facebook or email to a friend. Hopefully his inspiration will benefit many, and draw attention to his ‘Life Rolls On’ Foundation that benefits so many….
To learn more about Jesse Billauer and his charity ‘Life Rolls On’ see the link below.
To learn about Jesse Billauer, check out the link below.