By Adrianna Oliver
The sun had just risen above the horizon of the water. The waves crash on the sandy shore and seagulls fly above the crystal blue water and hot sand. A jeep pulls right onto the beach, and a woman gets out of it carrying her surfboard. The wind blows through her sandy blonde hair. She carries over the surfboard, which is as tall as she is and puts it into the water. The woman paddles out into the ocean and waits on the board for a wave. In the distance, she spots a wave she’ll take in. She slowly stands up on her board, and perfectly rides the wave in.
This seems like any other typical surfer’s day, but imagine doing this with only one arm – and while pregnant!
Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark in 2003, and it left her with a severed left arm. Although losing more than 60% of her blood at the time and having to go through several surgeries, Hamilton still kept a positive attitude. She accredits her strength to her faith in God in being able to get through a tough time.
“I think that we all go through different hard times in our lives and challenges and things to overcome and I just know that how I overcame was through Jesus Christ and that has been my stronghold,” Hamilton said in an interview with Fox News.
About the same time she started surfing, Hamilton remembers having a close relationship with God. At the age of five, she started her strong bond with him. Hamilton remembers always attending church and taking part in bible studies when she was young. Her parents had instilled her faith in her at a very young age. Throughout the attack and after, Hamilton remained faithful and put her strength in God. She wanted to be a light of God to people through surfing even before her accident. But after the accident, she knew that she could use her story to inspire others, and that’s how she would be a light for God.
Only one month after the attack, Hamilton was back in the water. She went right back into the action with a positive outlook. After careful training and learning new techniques, she took part in as many surf competitions as she could. Hamilton’s comeback surprised many – even her family and friends.
“I don’t really know how she does it,” said Alana Blanchard, Hamilton’s friend who was there at the time of the shark attack. “She’s incredible.’’
Even before her attack at the age of 8, Hamilton said she already wanted to go pro. After her attack, she still wanted to take place in competitions. Although her body was not in the right shape she wanted it to be in – her will power and faith allowed her to push her boundaries and work hard to get what she wanted. In 2012, Hamilton was awarded a wildcard to take place in the Rip Curl Cup. Although she didn’t win, she was the first woman to ever compete in this cup. But her latest event title win was at the Pipeline Women’s Pro in 2014. She won each and every one of her heats and took the top spot in the competition!
Not only did Hamilton have a great comeback, but she served as a source of inspiration for many people.
Hamilton’s story became very popular with the release of the movie Soul Surfer in 2011. The movie was very successful, running for 101 days in theaters and selling almost two million DVDs and Blu-rays in 90 days. Soul Surfer was also nominated for many awards. She personally enjoys speaking at religious events, sharing her story with people. Hamilton also wrote two books, and her newest one–Body & Soul–is aimed towards her largest audience: teenage girls. Although most teenage girls are not trying to learn to surf again with only one arm, Hamilton says that everyone is going through a struggle and she hopes that she can serve as an inspiration to all people.
In 2013, Hamilton married Adam Dirks and competed with him on The Amazing Race. Hamilton says that she is very happy that she patiently waited to find the right man, and is even happier she found Adam. In February, Hamilton released a video of her and her husband announcing that they’re expecting a baby! The baby boy is due in early June this summer, and they are both very excited. Hamilton continues surfing while pregnant and plans on surfing until her little boy takes over. She and her husband feel they are both blessed that they’re having a boy, and they pray that God will lead them through their new chapter in life.
Hamilton’s story of faith and courage is an inspiration for all. She hopes to influence as many people as she can with her story.
“I wouldn’t change what happened to me,” Hamilton said, “ because then I wouldn’t have this chance, in front of all of you, to embrace more people than I ever could have with two arms.”