‘Life Rolls On’ Surfs into New England

Opportunities for adaptive surfing


‘Life Rolls On’ participant surfs on an adaptive surfboard.


Non-profit organization Life Rolls On (LRO) is set on making a splash in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. With a mission of “improving the quality of life for people living with various disabilities,” LRO is coming to New England to provide opportunities for adaptive surfing and skating.

Weeks away from becoming professional, on March 25, 1996, LRO founder Jesse Billauer was out surfing when he got pulled inside a barrel wave and instantly became a quadriplegic (paralysis of all four limbs). Billauer created LRO because he felt that everyone living with paralysis deserves to feel the “exhilarating freedom” that surfing brought him.

“With the help of the surf community, I got back into the sport I love and went on to help thousands brave the waves and in the process, rediscover their infinite potential,” Billauer said.

LRO volunteer Marc Guttman began surfing when he was training in emergency medicine at NYU; he would take the train from Manhattan and Long Island beach to surf.

“Surfing for me is a great outdoor exercise that gives me the opportunity to work in a fun skill and spend time with others in the water. It’s too fun and very good for the mind and the body,” Dr. Guttman said.

Dr. Guttman became involved with Billauer’s organization when his college friend told him about his experience and joy from helping with LRO events at Carolina Beach.

“As an emergency physician, I often see patients and their families dealing with their disabilities. Having enjoyed surfing myself for many years and enjoying the stoke and good feelings it offers, I thought that adaptive surfing must be a great way for individuals with disabilities to be active, share in the joy, and maybe help be springboard to other endeavors that enrich their lives,” Dr. Guttman said.

Wanting to share this with others, he ended up contacting LRO and spoke with outreach persons, workers that coordinate with volunteers to host the event, about the possibility of organizing an event for LRO in New England. With the help of his daughter and fellow LRO. volunteer Tara Guttman, they contacted sponsors to purchase beach wheelchairs and adaptive surfboards. Surfers use the boards by lying down to paddle and surf.

An LRO event held on Sept. 24 in Narragansett, RI, will be dedicated to people with disabilities that want to try out surfing. “I was inspired to help run this event from the joy get from surfing and the joy I see in other people when they surf. No one ever seems to have a bad mood in the water,” Dr. Guttman said.

Now, they’ve been reaching out to rehabilitation centers in neurology and rehab departments of hospitals in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts so that they can reach their patients and tell them about this opportunity being provided to them.

“We need a lot of volunteers for this event, so I encourage everyone to sign up and volunteer. It will be a lot of fun at the beach; this event can count towards volunteer hours as well,” Dr. Guttman said.

To volunteer you can head to the “Life Rolls On” website to register.

Overall, the goal for the day is for participants and volunteers to enjoy themselves and have fun at the beach.