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Many have heard her life threatening story. Her dedication, love, and passion kept her going. She’s handled more than most people ever could. Bethany Hamilton is an inspiration to so many because of the way she’s held strong through these life changing events.
Surfing was a huge part in Behthany’s life. Cheri Hamilton, Bethanys mom, started home schooling her in the sixth-grade. For Bethany there was no time for public school and professional surfing. A flexible schedule was necassary for her and her family to be able to train and attend surf meets.
Bethany says, “…I have tests, and a mom who’s pretty tough when it comes to making sure I hit those books and pull straight A’s” (Abbey, 2005). Her family has always made time and worked around Bethany’s schedule. Since Bethany was young her family has always supported her in what she wanted to do. Her mother and father, also surfers, knew what it was like and how much more encouraging it was to have people that supported you.
“Win or lose, they think I’m awesome…” (Abbey, 2005).
October 31,2003, on Kauai, Hawaii’s north shore, Bethany Hamilton’s arm was severed by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing. Losing 70 percent of her blood, and almost her life, she remained calm. After fierce physical therapy, she was in tip-top physical condition. Bethany instantly asked if she woud ever surf again. By Janurary, a few months prior to her life-changing injury, she was entered into the National Surfing Championships and placed 5th in her group.
The devestating attack on 13 yearold Bethany Hamilton did not set her back (Kimmel, 2006). Bethany remembers only some of what happened during the attack. “I remember seeing the wateer around me turn bright red with my blood. Then I saw that my arm had been bitten off almost to the shoulder”, Bethany says while still in the hospital (Abbey, 2005). It all took time for Bethany to get used to. “It didn’t all seem real until that next morning when I woke up with only a four to five inch stub as an arm” (Abbey, 2005). Avoiding the media after the accident, Bethany and her family went to a friend’s beach house for privacy. The media had Bethany everywhere just days after the attack. Eager to hear from Bethany herself, they crowded her house and beaches for days. Finally, when Bethany was up and going again, she decided it was time to tell her story. She started getting interviewed, starring on talk shows, and decided to write a book with the help of a church pastor (Powers, 2004). Just weeks later, Bethany was already ready to compete again. “I’m definitely going to get back in the water,” Bethany said. “If I was like a person that just quit surfing after this, I wouldn’t be a real surfer” (Abbey, 2005). So much determination Bethany had to get back in the water. Her dream of pro surfing never died. “I think I may be able to do more good having one arm than when I had two” (Abbey, 2005).
In November of 2003, less than a month after the attack, Bethany was back in the ocean. Her family, telling her to take it slow, but Bethany was eager. She wanted to show she could do it again and that nothing would stop her from doing what she loved. She knew shark attacks were rare, so she wasn’t afraid of that, but the fact that she might not be able to surf again scared her most. “Then it happened” Bethany remembers. “A wave rolled through, I was on my feet, everything was easy” (Sharktail, 2005). Bethany was now ready to compete again. With the help of her dad and many more supporters, she had a modified board made for her. It helped her struggles with diving under waves with one arm. Soon she was back and competing just as hard. Bethany has won many awards, including the 2004 ESPY awar for “Best Comeback Athlete”, and the “Special Courage” award at the 2004 Teen Choice Awards. But it was never the awards that kept her going. (Speed, 2010). Bethany never realized how many children just like her, were scared to try the things they loved. Her dedication, love, and effort she put into surfing inspired kids just like her. She got over the pity and she got through the pain, she got to inspire, heal, and encourage many, many people who had lost hope. “…but the difference in Bethany Hamilton’s story is what happened later, when she stopped being the shark attack survivor and started becoming the inspiration” (Speed, 2010).
Bethany had to overcome many challenges after this traumatic event. Fixing her hair, getting dressed, and everyday things taken for granted, was lost for 13 year-old Bethany. Though the challenges pushed her near her breaking point, she never lost sight in her faith for Jesus Christ, her family, and the fact she survived this life threatening event. She continued to voulnteer for her church, and was learning new ways to do the things she loved (Speed, 2010). Bethany still had a hard question as of why God chose this life for her. Letters were sent to her, showing just how inspired many people were and then she realized. “I am not saying God made the shark bite me,” she said. “I think He knew it would happen, and He made a way for my life to be happy and meaningful in spite of it happening” (Abbey, 2005). Bethany’s faith has never interferred with her surfing life. Her Christian faith has kept her going. Bethany said “All my life is based on God and Jesus, if I didn’t have them I’d be lost in the world” (Abbey, 2005). Bethany’s strength and courage has come from her faith. Worship services, church activities, Bible studies, and church camps have kept her faith on fire and she’s never lost sight in what is truly important.
Bethany Hamilton, life changer, surfer, inspiration, and all of these at only 13 years old. The challenges she faced never got in her way. Her story is still heard. Life is tough, but Bethany has shown many how to work around life’s challenging events.
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