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Capital Campaign May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

What’s Next
Q&A with Josh Billauer, ’98

   
     

Josh Billauer with is brother Jesse.

Upon graduation, Josh Billauer, ’98, was not sure what he wanted to do with his future. He just dreamed of making an impact on the world.

Little did Josh know that he was already on his way.

Two years earlier, Josh’s brother, Jesse was on the cusp of becoming a pro surfer when he was knocked by a wave into a sandbar, breaking his neck and leaving him a quadriplegic.
To offset the expenses related to Jesse’s injury, the local community and surfing industry rallied to support the family. As a thank you, the Billauer brothers decided to host a golf tournament to benefit spinal cord injury research. Momentum for their fundraising efforts grew, and Josh and Jesse soon founded a nonprofit foundation, Life Rolls On (www.liferollson.org), in 2002.

Since then, the grassroots organization has raised more than $1.1 million to support individuals and families whose lives have been affected by severe spinal cord injuries. The Foundation also funds research, such as UCSD’s groundbreaking Translational Spinal Cord Regeneration Research Program, directed by Mark Tuszynski, M.D., Ph.D.
Josh balances a successful career as a partner of an investment group with Wachovia Securities in La Jolla, while serving as president of the Life Rolls On Foundation.

What motivated Life Rolls On to support UCSD’s spinal cord regeneration research?
As an alumnus, I felt comfortable knowing that the funds would be used responsibly by Dr. Tuszynski’s program, where researchers are working to promote regeneration of nerve cells to help paralyzed patients regain more functional use of their limbs.

What do you hope to accomplish with the gifts?
Our goal is to contribute to further research for spinal cord injury, although the funding need is much greater than what just our organization can give.

What advice would you give to fellow alumni about giving back?
Find what it is you are passionate about, and figure out a way to get involved. It doesn’t always have to be money. It can be time, use of your professional skills or connections and other resources.

What’s next?
My wife is due with our first child, and the Life Rolls On Foundation is on the verge of hiring our first formal staff members. This is coming just in time—I don’t know how I would have been able to manage a baby, a job and Life Rolls On.

Knowing Josh, he would have found a way.

 

RELATED LINKS

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Advice for students today: Have fun, relax and enjoy every moment.

Miss most about UCSD: Surfing three times a day at Black’s.

Professor who made the biggest impact: Edwin Hutchins in Cognitive Science, a great man.

Proudest accomplishment: Seeing the smile of someone with a spinal cord injury who just rode a wave.

 
 
To learn more about supporting undergraduates, call (858) 822-1536 or email kspaar@ucsd.edu