JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. --- One California non-profit is making waves on Jacksonville beach. The organization, 'Life Rolls On' gives thousands of disabled residents the chance to do something that many of us take for granted- a dip in the water.
The organization was founded in 2002 but California-native, Jesse Billauer.
"I was one of the top surfers in the country and I broke my neck surfing," said Billauer.
He was just 17 years-old, when his life changed in one instant. His dreams of professional surfing quickly turned into a passion to help others.
After the accident, Billauer says he had many emotions. Billauer thought, "What's my life going to be like? Am I going to have a family and get a job and still accomplish my goals? Well, I was able to do all that!"
For twelve years, he has helped people in 9 cities, including Jacksonville Beach. Billauer inspires others with paralysis to get on the water and enjoy it, as he does.
He has helped people like Gage Burns, 14. At the age of five, Burns went in for a surgery but came out paralyzed after surgeons hit a nerve.
"One of the doctors told me that I wouldn't be able to crawl again but eventually I kept working harder and harder to do it," said Burns.
Burns beat the odds and went from crawling to surfing! The Arkansas-native spends his summer months in Jacksonville, so he can play basketball and swim with others in the Brooks Rehabilitation Program.
"Swimming and getting in the water is one of my favorite things," said Burns. "I don't really get the chance to do that anywhere else."
Alice Krauss works with dozens of people, like Gage, at the Brooks Rehabilitation Center.
"For many people, they have been living with paralysis and other disabling conditions and some of them haven't been down to the beach or the water for 15 to 20 years," said Krauss. "This gives them the chance to do that."
With the help of more than 200 Jacksonville volunteers, dozens in Jacksonville are getting the chance to enjoy Billauer's favorite thing....the thrill of the water.
"I just knew how much independence and freedom and beauty the ocean brought me and I wanted to bring that to other people in my situation," said Billauer.