Even at 7, Joey Vildibill of Poway is a veteran surfer thanks to the support of volunteers who took him out Saturday morning. Joey smiled as Life Rolls On volunteers accompanied him on a surfboard on the waves at La Jolla Shores.
In his third year of the annual “They Will Surf Again” event for people with spinal-cord injuries, Joey was one of 50 paraplegics or quadriplegics of all ages taking part. Two hundred volunteers escorted surfers, encouraged them and cheered with pompoms.
Jesse Billauer, founder of Life Rolls On, said: “I want to bring them hope and inspiration.”
Billauer, who broke his neck surfing in Malibu in 1996, continued: “They go out and surf and have the freedom and independence of being out on the waves. It’s a beautiful experience.”
After his injury, Billauer yearned to resume surfing, he said. He did—and wants to gives others that same chance.
Life Rolls On Foundation, a subsidiary of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, holds surfing, skating and skiing events in a variety of states including Hawaii, North Carolina, Texas, New Jersey and Florida.
Patrick Vasquez, an organizer, said in a release the events “foster hope, confidence and community for young people living with paralysis.”