AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “They were such an easy read for most people,” Lappin recalled. “I remember looking at the words that were so simple and struggling to remember what they were. It was kind of embarrassing at the time, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I don’t take reading for granted anymore.” In time, the words lost their mystery. He built his body back, climbed on a bike, picked up a surfboard. He went on with his life again, returning to the physical activities he’d loved as a kid. He tried his hand at entrepreneurship, starting a company that rented cellular phones to travelers at hotels. It ran all right, but he kept thinking about his experience nosing through the little books and felt an urge to give it a try. So in 2001, 14 years after he had to restart his life, began Endurance Publications. Unable to find a corporate publisher, he put a pair of books out himself, aiming to teach kids how to read and to encourage them to be more active. “Marcel Moves Mountains!” focused on a young cyclist’s first bike, while “Simon Makes Waves!” profiled a budding surfer dude. Lappin hooked up with a young artist, Jeremy Madl, to handle the whimsical illustrations and contracted with a doll maker to include plush versions of the main characters. AGOURA HILLS – Propped up in a wheelchair, unable to walk or even read, Jeff Lappin started building his business by opening a children’s book. He didn’t know it at the time – he couldn’t remember how to move, how to turn letters into words, even how he’d landed in the hospital. At the age of 21, he’d just emerged from a month-long coma. When the driver of the car he was riding in fell asleep and plowed into a streetlight at 100 mph, Lappin broke his hip, pelvis, femur, lacerated his liver, collapsed his lung and injured his brain so badly he couldn’t comprehend simple words on a page. He lost 50 pounds off his lanky, athletic frame and would not be himself again for nearly three years. To pass the time, his mother brought books. The only ones he could comprehend were written for 3-year-olds – an audience he’d eventually get to know very well, indeed. “Any book-and-doll combination is always good,” said Stevanne Auerbach, editor of DrToy.com. “It really helps to reinforce learning and reading. Anything that helps gets them moving is important, and reading, too. The combination of them both is a great thing.” After going $50,000 into debt to a childhood friend to start the business, Lappin now expects to gross $100,000 this year. He’s currently in pre-production to develop an animated DVD based on young athletes he calls Team XYZ, which he hopes can become a franchise that will one day rival shows like Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats.” In a nod to his surfer roots, he describes business as “incredibly awesome,” but remains mindful that it all stems from him getting mashed into the dashboard of a car. “No regrets,” he said. “Things happen, but I survived. 100 mph is pretty fast ….” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected]! 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!