Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer and shark attack victim, is an inspiration not only to surfers but to people from every part of the world. In her book “Soul Surfer” she shares her thoughts about life, her attack, her passion for surfing, and her relationship with God. Although she admits that she never wished to write a book, her memoir turned out to be a success and she eventually won a “courage award” and Best Comeback Athlete ESPY Award.
Bethany Hamilton grew up in Kauai, Hawaii and was raised by her parents who are two former surfers. Her older brothers, Noah and Timmy are both a big part of Bethany’s life as well. Noah, the older of the two, promotes and photographs Bethany. After a couple of contests, Noah set up a website with pictures and videos and mailed a resume to various surf companies in the hopes of receiving offers for sponsors. Eventually Rip Curl accepted the offer and decided to sponsor Bethany.
Bethany was able to catch a wave without her parents help at the age of seven and started competing in contests when she was in grade school. Her first contest was at Makaha Beach where she signed up for two divisions: girls ages seven to nine short board and the seven to nine long board. In the end she won all of her heats and the division championships. Before a contest Bethany says she doesn’t like to stress out too much. She studies the waves previous to getting in the water and decides where to take off. She also prays.
Bethany’s relationship with God is the most important thing to her. She attends the North Shore Community Church and hangs out with her Christian friends a lot because she knows they are close to God as well. She talks about God numerous times in “Soul Surfer” and everything she does reflects upon her relationship with Him. Besides attending church and surfing Bethany is home-schooled. Her dreams in becoming a professional surfer are achieved a lot easier by being home-schooled because it gives her more time to surf and attend to things other than school.
On October 31, 2003 Bethany woke up and got ready to go surfing. She and her Mom decided to go to a surf spot called Pauaeaka but when they arrived and saw there were no waves they went to Tunnels Beach. When they got there Bethany’s best friend Alana was already there with her brother Byron and her dad Holt. After a half hour of surfing the shark attack happened in what now seems to be a flash to Bethany. She recalls feeling a tight pull and pressure on her left arm and then seeing the water turn bright red. Immediately Bethany headed towards shore and yelled out “I just got attacked by a shark.” Holt swam over to where she was and helped take her to shore. Everyone started rushing over and swarming the area and finally Holt could not wait for the paramedics to arrive any longer. He drove Bethany to the local hospital. Here, Bethany remembered the paramedic saying something that impacted her dramatically. He said “God will never leave you or forsake you,” and Bethany admits that he was right. After six days of being cared for in the hospital, Bethany was able to go home. Her first recognition that her life was about to change was when she had to leave the hospital through a back entrance to get away from all the reporters.
After the attack Bethany told her Dad she wanted to become a surf photographer because she had given up her dreams in becoming a professional surfer. By the next morning she had already changed her mind and started to think about going back in the water. The day before Thanksgiving a couple of Bethany’s friends went out to go surfing. She didn’t plan on surfing but she got tempted and decided to give it a shot. Noah filmed Bethany’s first surf and her Dad took time off of work to come and watch along with some of Bethany’s friends. After being discouraged a couple of times, Bethany finally got the motions down. The next day came and she went surfing again; this time harder and bigger waves.
In January of 2004, less than six months after the attack, Bethany entered her first contest and placed fifth in the Open Women’s division. Her next contest won her first place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships and a national title. She also earned herself a spot on the Association of Surfing Professionals team.
Bethany Hamilton is not only a professional surfer who has won countless numbers of contests and awards, but she is an inspiration to many people. Her book was moving and made me feel like I can do anything no matter what terrible things might happen. In “Soul Surfer” Bethany makes it clear that the world has so much to offer; it is a waste of time worrying about negative aspects. Her life doesn’t just revolve around surfing, making movies, writing books, going on talk shows, and hanging out with friends. She helps other people with their problems and tries her best to follow in Jesus’s footsteps. She lives her life with the best attitude she can have. Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer and an inspiration to everyone who knows her story.