Editor’s Note: On August 17, The Inertia’s EVOLVE Summit will celebrate individuals making positive contributions to surf and outdoor culture. Motivational Speaker an Founder of Life Rolls On, Jesse Billauer, has inspired millions of people with his story of surfing again after breaking his neck in March of 1996, which shaped this message that he shares now: your power is in your perspective, not your circumstance. In a recent conversation with The Inertia’s Juan Hernandez, Jesse was asked what it means when people call him ‘The Godfather of Adaptive Sports,’ and if there was ever a single point where he saw his mission to just get back in the water turn into one that would inspire others to do the same. He’ll be discussing the real value of skills learned in skateparks, in the ocean, and the outdoors in Los Angeles at EVOLVE next month. Tickets sold out quickly last year, so grab one before they’re gone. Enter SECONDWAVE at checkout to save $45 on early bird tickets.
I was injured in 1996. I feel like up to that point nobody was doing adaptive surfing, so I kind of had to figure it out. Rob Machado, Al Merrick, and I came up with this idea for a board, and they made it for me. I laid on my stomach, propped myself up on my elbows, Rob pushed me into waves, and it kind of all started with that.