Paralyzed individuals trade wheelchairs for waves
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C.--They can not walk, but with the help of dozens of volunteers, paralyzed children and adults took to the waves to surf.
The group called "Life Rolls On" held an event on Wrightsville Beach Saturday. Families from all over N.C. came to participate.
For those who are wheel chair bound, it was the experience of a lifetime.
With his camera in hand, Richard Worrell was one proud poppa watching his 6-year-old son Rich. "He was holding onto the board great and dragging his hand through the water," Worrell said.
Rich was one of the first to hit the waves during They Will Surf Again, an event held across the country for people with various stages of paralysis. And while little Rich may be disabled, he did not let it hold him back. "He has cerebral palsy, and he has a brain disorder," Worrell explained. "But he's a happy child. He has never been so happy before riding these waves.
Rich was just one of dozens that came out for the chance to trade their wheels for waves. Teams of volunteers went out with each participant and helped them ride the boards by laying on their stomachs or backs. Instructor Brandon Bonnette said, "Usually when we do this, we have an instructor on the back of the board so they can constantly feel safe."
The Life Rolls On organization that hosts the event was founded by a former surfer, Jesse Billauer, who was injured while doing the thing he loved most. "When I was 17, I was just about to go professional. I broke my neck while surfing," Billauer said.
And because of his persistence, people like young Rich are surpassing expectations and accomplishing what some might say, is the impossible.
"There are 150 volunteers to make sure everybody's safe, and they did an incredible job," Worrell said.
Bonnette added, "I feel like I'm having a bad day and I get to hang out with these guys, and they're all full of smiles. They have the best attitudes. Any kind of worry or care I have just gets washed away immediately."
The event was free to all participants and their families.