Jay Liesener, he pushed the limits

November 28, 2017

Milton resident Jay Liesener found peace while surrounded by love Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. He left this earth to embark on his endless journey through the universe.

Born March 19, 1972, Jay spent his life pushing limits and building community.

In Hawaiian, ho'omau means to persevere; to never give up. Jay Liesener was the embodiment of ho'omau. As a boy in Silver Spring, Md., 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.

In lieu of flowers, please direct support to the Team Surfgimp Foundation,, created in Jay's memory to provide grants for disabled people who want to experience their dreams the way Jay was able to experience his.
A celebration of Jay's life is planned for 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, at the Rusty Rudder, 113 Dickinson Ave., Dewey Beach. All are welcome. A paddle out will be planned for the Spring/Summer.