Twenty years ago, on March 25, 1996, I became a quadriplegic. While I obviously don’t celebrate that life-changing moment, I DO celebrate every day, month and year after it. Because each one, each new morning, represents another checkmark on the “Never Give Up” scoreboard. As I roll into this 20th year, I would be honored to share my story with your team – whether that’s executives, third graders or professional soccer players! When you don’t give up, you cannot fail.
— Jesse Billauer

Jesse is known for being one of the top 100 junior surfers in the world, having a paralyzing accident, and coming back strong – creating a big life for himself and countless others living with paralysis. He began a career of motivational speaking, and has now keynoted hundreds of events, from global corporations to elementary schools.

Jesse grew up in the world-famous waves of Malibu, California. He continues to reside near the ocean in Los Angeles, now sharing his life – and surfboards – with his beautiful wife, Sam.

In Jesse's own words...

World Champion Quadriplegic Surfer

I was one of the top junior surfers in the world, a month away from turning pro, when I pulled inside a barrel and got thrown headfirst into a sandbar. The impact broke my sixth vertebrae and I instantly became a quadriplegic. 

The good news is ... my story didn't end that day in the ocean. With the help of the surf community, I got back into the sport I loved, and in September 2015, I became the world champion of adaptive surfing. 

Photo by C. Mudlo

Motivational Speaker

In the years after my accident, I came to realize that my story was important to share. So I got into motivational speaking. (I bet you already figured out my story really isn't about surfing or paralysis. It's about life – and living it in a big way!)

I speak to all audiences – students, athletes, executives – but I particularly enjoy talking to kids at schools. The photo here is me at an elementary school with a little shredder who participated in my Life Rolls On "They Will Skate Again" event in Venice CA. What a small world!

Just remember this ... your power is in your perspective, not your circumstance. No matter what you're going through, I'm here to tell you, you got this.

And in the words of his friends and family...

For a guy with a spinal cord injury, Jesse has more backbone than anyone I know. Jesse is his best, whole self, and insists that you find your best. I hope you have the good fortune to spend a few hours with the man I'm proud to call my friend. Be Love. – Jason Mraz, Musician, Humanitarian, and Friend (pictured here at Jesse and Sam's wedding in Malibu, California)


First an idol, then a mentor, then a teammate. Always a friend. – Patrick Ivison, Life Rolls On Adaptive Surfer since 2004 and Member of Team USA

Jesse's mission is to help others achieve their dreams. He is a leader of change and an advocate of kindness. And he expects nothing in return but a smile. Jesse continues to make this world a better place and invites everyone to join him on this journey. Thank you, my love, for never giving up on YOUR dreams, which led you to what is now OUR journey. Together we can accomplish and overcome anything. – Sam Billauer, Jesse's wife

Jesse has no idea how much he inspires me and countless others. Often, when I'm looking at life's challenges...I channel Jesse. If he can do it, I know I can, too. – Cat Gregory, Professional Photographer and Life Rolls On Supporter (the photo here is Jesse with one of the little groms at a 2015 Life Rolls On event)