It’s been six years since Jesse Billauer was driven into the sand by the lip after pulling into a backside barrel at Zuma State Beach, causing a traumatic spinal cord injury that has resigned to a wheelchair ever since. Always insistent on turning a negative into a positive, on July 29th, 2002, for the fourth year in a row, Jesse shook hands and welcomed competitors at his fourth annual charity golf tournament that this year alone raised over $70,000 for spinal cord research.
On hand were Benji Weatherly, Nathaniel Curran, event host Rob Machado and overgrown retired Oakland A’s outfielder Jose Conseco. But even more impressive than team Machado’s 12-under finish or Conseco’s unnatural biceps were Jesse’s two close friends Brett Sanson and Brad Stanley who pulled Jesse from the water on that infamous summer day in 1996, and whom Jesse thanked emphatically during the closing ceremonies and auction.
This year marks the start of an official co-joining between Jesse’s foundation, Life Rolls On, and spinal cord injury-based philanthropy, They Will Surf Again. For Jesse, who was scheduled to appear at an Offspring concert and surf in an expression session at the U.S. Open of surfing in Huntington Beach the following weekend, the golf event must have seemed like a bit of a distraction. But all told, everyone on hand had a terrific time–especially Jesse.
“It’s just the beginning,” says Jesse of this year’s event. “That was a little taste for your taste buds. The meal is on its way.”