In Hawaiian, ho’omau means to persevere; to never give up. Jay Liesener was the embodiment of ho’omau. As a boy, Jay was a multi-sport athlete who loved to swim and play in the ocean. At the age of 17, he broke his neck, rendering him a quadriplegic. Determined to not be defined by his injury, Jay earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland and taught at Norfolk State University. He married his college sweetheart Melanie. The demands and stresses of teaching proved too great for Liesener’s wheelchair-bound body, but he refused to idly waste away what remained of his life. Instead, after finding inspiration in Jesse Billauer’s Life Rolls On, he rediscovered his love for the water.
For nearly a decade, Liesener and his always-present support group, Team Surfgimp, caught waves while inspiring curious beachgoers. The team called Delaware home, but traveled to Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and California as one big family, conquering preconceived limitations together.
Ho'omau also means to perpetuate, and to continue in a way that causes good to be long-lasting. In honor of Jay’s ho’omau, the Surfgimp Foundation was created in November 2017 to provide grants for disabled people who want to experience their dreams the way Jay was able to experience his.
As Jay liked to say, "I was having a little fun while making a political statement at the same time. The idea was to take a derogatory term about disability and use it to challenge people's assumptions."
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11.22.19 Delmarva Life
1.8.19 Delmarva Life
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Surfgimp Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 organization. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. EIN: 82-3259873.