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How do quadriplegic surfers do it? Meet Barney Miller

Barney Miller & Kate Southwell © Red Bull



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Ambassador Dedicated to Raising Awareness and Funding for Injury Research

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 March, 2014 - Barney Miller was an up-and-coming Aussie surfer with a lot of potential. Miller’s path to the professionals, however, came to a standstill when he was paralyzed in a high-speed car accident in 1999. The accident broke his spinal cord at the C5-6 disc with damage to the C3.  He was told he’d be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, never move his right arm and never walk again.  Miller wasn’t willing to settle with the prognosis, and instead set out to do something about his condition and prove the doctors wrong.  

In 2009, Miller found a rehabilitation program called Project Walk, based in Carlsbad, CA.  The kinesiology program based on repetitive exercise was what he needed to start seeing a marked progress in his recovery.  Dedicated to training, he now spends half of the year in Australia and half in Carlsbad.  In July of 2007 Miller met the love of his life, Kate Southwell, an Australian singer/songwriter known to her fans as Kada.  

With romantic tradition as a motivator, Miller told her that he wouldn’t propose until he could get down on one knee.  The training and perseverance paid off, and the couple celebrated a beautiful, traditional on bended-knee proposal in September 2012.  The next milestone goal Miller has set to accomplish is to have a standing first dance with his beautiful bride at their wedding on April 18, 2015.  Miller is currently filming a documentary with Trinity Films about his life called "No Means Go," titled for his personal motto.
“The Wings for Life World Run is something I am very passionate about.  It’s going to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries worldwide in a way that has never been done before,” said Miller.  “I am honored to be part of this organization, raising funds to find a cure.”

There are 3 million people currently living with a spinal cord injury, and each year 250,000 more are traumatically injured – the main cause being traffic accidents.  The Wings for Life World Run is a first of its kind running race organized to raise awareness and funds for spinal cord injury research. The event will take place on May 4, 2014 in 35 different locations around the world, simultaneously.  One hundred percent of registration fees go directly to the Wings for Life foundation to fund research.  



Santa Clarita, CA is just one of three U.S. locations hosting a race, and on board to support the West Coast event as Wings for Life World Run Ambassadors are Barney Miller (Carlsbad, CA/New South Wales, Australia), Jesse Billauer (Los Angeles, CA), and Honza Rejmanek (Davis, CA).

In addition to the official ambassadors, dozens of other notable athletes have pledged their support in finding a cure for spinal cord injury including: Louie Vito, Lindsey Vonn, Ryan Sheckler, Jimmy Spithill, CJ Wilson, Reggie Bush, Ian Walsh, Wes Agee, Corey Bohan, Mike “Hucker” Clark, Kai Lenny, Ronnie Renner, Robby Naish, Robbie Maddison, Aaron Chase, Karl Meltzer, Rebecca Rusch, Sarah Hendrickson, Paul Rabil, Chris Davenport, Grete Eliassen, Dane Jackson, Levi LaValle, Steel Lafferty, Jamie O’Brien, Kevin Robinson, and Kai Lenny.

Jesse Billauer is a California native and has been a surfer since he was just nine years old growing up in the Pacific Palisades.  His path to joining the professional tour took a turn for the unexpected on March 25, 1996.  Billauer was out for a morning surf session with his friends, when the crest of a wave knocked him off of his board and forced him headfirst into the sandbar. He was conscious, but his body was limp, and he was facedown in the water.  

He waited until a wave flipped him upright and started yelling for help.  Billauer’s friends helped to stabilize him and move him to the sand as they awaited a helicopter to take him to the UCLA Medical Center.  The experience rendered him a quadriplegic, and also led him to the realization that even with this traumatic life-altering event, he was fortunate.  A few years after the accident Billauer founded a non-profit foundation called Life Rolls On, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for others affected by spinal cord injury.  

In December 2013, Billauer got engaged to his beautiful fiancé Sam Pearson, soon to be Billauer, and they are currently planning their October 2014 wedding.

“I am very honored to be an ambassador of the inaugural Wings for Life World Run.  The fact that 100% of the money raised is going straight to spinal cord injury research is truly amazing in itself,” said Billauer.  “I am confident that this event will bring well deserved attention to spinal cord injures and highlight the amazing work that Wings for Life is doing to find a cure.”

Honza Rejmanek is an American atmospheric scientist, adventurer, paraglider pilot, and proud father to a five-year-old son. Having lived in California since age ten, Rejmanek spent his childhood hiking, backpacking and learning to paraglide. At 38 years old, he has proven to be one of the world’s most consistent athletes, finishing in the top ten in three of the past four Red Bull X-Alps competitions, a race that challenges its competitors to finish a 1000+ km course through the European Alps either by foot, by paragliding, or a combination of the two.  Rejmanek, who currently lives in Davis, CA with his family, has often hiked/run in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for altitude training with his son on his back, for an added challenge. Due to rigorous training, injury is always a concern and his body has endured the repercussions.  

"Flying an aircraft of cloth and strings, I can't help but contemplate the risk of spinal injury.  Thus, it is an honor to participate in and promote the Wings for Life World Run, an awesome and unique race that will put us closer to finding a cure.  I hope that you will run with us on May 4th!"

The Wings for Life World Run is truly for all types of athletes and the format allows each and every participant to set their own personal goals, whether it’s two miles or 60. The outstanding feature of this global sporting event is that the moving finish line will be pursuing the racers from behind, instead of the racers running towards a set finish line. Exactly 30 minutes after the runners begin the race, at some of the most spectacular locations around the world, official Catcher Cars will set off behind the packs in pursuit of the runners.

When a Catcher Car passes a runner, the race is over as they’ve reached their personal finish line and their unique race results are recorded. The last man and last woman running will be declared the winners. Participants can estimate their goal distance and determine a training regimen by visiting the Personal Goal Calculator on 
The world’s first and only simultaneous global endurance event includes a number of breath taking routes, including Denver, CO; Sunrise, FL; and Santa Clarita, CA.  The third largest city in Los Angeles County, Santa Clarita is the only West Coast city in the U.S. participating in this global event. Home to Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Clarita is otherwise known for its outdoor lifestyle amenities including more than 70 miles of trails and ample open space, which provides a picturesque course for competitors.

At 3 AM Pacific Time, the Santa Clarita race will begin on Magic Mountain Parkway near the roller coaster capital of the world. Since the event will take place at nighttime, a fun glow-in-the-dark theme will electrify runners and help light their pathway to their personal finish line.

Lindsay Robinson

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