Tag Archives: adapted surfing

Wheelchair-User’s GoPro Extreme Adventures


In a sea of cameras, the GoPro camera is definitely the Sucker fish; the camera that very stealth-like attaches itself to anything it can. This is why this camera has become a favorite of extreme athletes, and adapted athletes, wanting to share their first person experience with the world.

Mount it, wear it, the options are endless. The camera/company itself, own by Nick Woodman, a surfer from California, has been around since 2004, and it’s become quite the phenomenon. Thousands of amazing wheelchair-perspective videos have been made over the years too, from simple stuff like “ride-alongs” to giving an in-your-face view of a hardcore adaptive sport.

Check out 3 videos below that feature some of the best GoPro footage ever taken from a wheelchair user’s perspective. When you have a rugged, HD camera like this, the options truly are are endless.

Video #1: Paraplegic TV Reporter Goes Bungee Jumping in Whistler, Canada

For one of the scariest things I can imagine doing from a wheelchair – bungee jumping – this next video shows just that. Tara Weber, a T4 paraplegic and Canadian journalist (she was a longtime TV reporter in the Toronto-area). decided to go bungee jumping from her wheelchair, and asked her videographer cousin to help  document it using his GoPro camera.

Where she jumped – Whistler, Canada – is possibly one of the most beautiful places to go bungee jumping in North America. She went through Whistler Bungee too, a bungee jumping outfit in Whistler, Canada and they were more than accommodating to her wheelchair (avid disabled travelers, make a note). They did throw her off a bridge in a wheelchair, but she paid for it. heh

The video itself is only 3 minutes long, but it shows everything you need, from her getting suited-up and prepped to the jump itself, all with the camera attached to her wheelchair. Despite being crazy afraid of heights, this video is so awesome it almost makes me want to try it (almost).

Watch Tara’s big jump at Whistler

Video #2: Paralyzed Pro-Surfer Christiaan “Otter” Bailey on Dawn Patrol

Christiaan “Otter” Bailey, one of the few paralyzed pro-surfers in the world and a SCI superstar we’ve profiled, has been a pro surfer since he was 7 years old. Christiaan however was paralyzed eight years ago while filming a skateboard documentary (another passion of his), but he hasn’t stopped doing what he loves.

In this video showing him doing dawn patrol (checking out the waves for the day) while working at an adapted kid’s surfing camp in Costa Rica, Christiaan puts a GoPro camera on the front of his longboard to get some epic footage of him, and holy cow is it awesome. If you’re not motivated by this, you may be dead (just sayin’).

Watch Christiaan surf on his stomach in Costa Rica

Video #3: B-E Aggressive – Footage of Wheelchair Lacrosse

If you’ve always been a little too intimidated to try a group adapted sport, this GoPro footage of the wheelchair lacrosse league in the USA will definitely change your mind. It shows how fast and furious this game can be, and wounded vets love it.

If you were into aggressive sports before your injury and didn’t think you could find a sport that would give you that, wheelchair lacrosse is where it’s at. The video is quite lengthy, at 5+ minutes, but if you’ve always wanted to play, this is a great overview (and the first minute is by far the best).

Watch two teams battle it out playing wheelchair lacrosse

While capturing your wheelchair adventures comes at a steep price, (a GoPro camera starts out at $199), if you have the money and the creativity to go with it, it’s more than worth it. You could even get so good at it that you can sell your videos to rehab facilities, or start a blog and get some advertisers, and that would be a very good thing.

– Learn more: GoPro Camera from Hero

Do you own a GoPro? What wheelchair footage do you want to capture?

Watch the videos!

Canadian journalist Tara Weber, a paraplegic, going bungee jumping with a GoPro

Christiaan “Otter” Bailey in Costa Rica surfing with a GoPro

Inside a Wheelchair Lacrosse game with a GoPro

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SCI Superstar: Jesse Billauer

The ocean can be a dangerous place. Sharks, big waves with multiple personalities, fugly Man o’ Wars, but you don’t have to tell Jesse Billauer this. He’s a born and bred Cali boy who came out of the womb with a surfboard attached to the hip.

Jesse, at 17, was living the semi-charmed life of a California teenager – young, athletic, gorgeous (still is) and staged to be one of the next big surfers; it was an idyllic life. But his world turned upside down in 1996 when the crest of a wave threw him off his surfboard.

Jesse hit his head on a sandbar and became a C5-6 quadriplegic on impact. Despite a severed spinal cord, which can be a tough SCI blow to receive, Jesse wasn’t about to say adios to a rock star life. If anything, his energy for life has only become more pronounced.

Why he’s fearless

Jesse, still a quad till this day, has made an epic return to the ocean and the surfing world. In 1999, he founded Life Rolls On (LRO), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life in young people with SCI, by using adapted surfing (and adapted skiing) to inspire. I have been a huge fan or LRO for years, admiring them far away from the Midwest.

LRO has been hosting free adaptive surf days since it’s inception and another thing they’re known for – rockin’ fundraiser parties. Jesse has become an expert at throwing celebrity-studded events to raise money for the foundation, with incredible attendees like Paris Hilton and Jason Mraz. The skills! Their annual “Night By the Ocean” black-tie event is their biggest baddest event (this year it’s on a boat!).

And in 2009, LRO got a huge boost. They partnered with The Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation. With the foundation’s backing, they’ve been able to start They Will Surf Again, helping even more people get out and surf. Oh how I wish I lived by the ocean…not 10,000 lakes.

What I really love about Jesse is that he still surfs (by laying on his stomach and propping himself up and up on his elbow. Looks scary! But it does work). He was even featured in the docu-film, Step the Liquid, which showed his friendship with surfer, Robert Machado. He’s also created new surfing equipment and gained sponsorship from Hurley, Nike, Honda and Boost Mobile along the way.

Oh – and some big-time records have been met. In 2005, after years of adapted surfing experience, Jesse became the first ever quadriplegic surfer to conquer “Cloudbreak” in Tavarua, Fiji (an area of uber notorious waves). Insanity I tell you. Insanity!

What’s next?

After teaming up with Reeve, Jesse became the National Outreach Director for the Reeve Foundation, which definitely him busy.

And gearing up for a new sport to promote, They Will Sk8 Again, is the latest push by this ultra cool foundation. The purpose is to expose wheelers to safe wheelchair “skate” tricks. They’re actually hosting chair-skating clinics at cities throughout the country, with their next one scheduled on June 7 in Venice Beach, California. Check it out!

Jesse is also a popular motivational speaker. He speaks at schools and companies across the country with an all-encompassing issue everyone can relate to – overcoming adversity.

View his schedule/book this talented man at jessebillauer.com.

Watch the videos!

Jesse Billauer surfing in Morocco (great interview)

Jesse Billauer’s speech for TEDxYouth