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Soul Surfer - a story of inspiration

Updated on August 19, 2011

Soul Surfer

Soul surfer - Bethany Hamilton

Every once in a while there will be a story you hear about that stays with you and you will be simply inspired by the eventual outcome. A story I remember hearing about on a sports news telecast was the incredibly brave and heroic story of a young girl of 13 from Hawaii known for her surfing and courage. Her name, Bethany Hamilton, known for her competitive spirit and her strong will seemed to garner a great deal of attention and for good reason. She had been the unfortunate victim of a shark attack that left her with only one arm as she lost her left arm in the attack.

At the time I heard the news report I did not know of her but her story moved me to tears as I learned of the gruesome shark attack she endured, the love of her friends who were there to help save her life and the incredible bravery and courage she summoned in her desire to make a comeback and continue her passion of surfing. She had to endure a great deal of physical and emotional pain and she tested her very limits in the process but she never gave up her desire to regain her prominence and do what she loved which was to surf.

When I heard about the movie and I saw the trailer I knew I had to see it. Sean McNamara is the director and it took several years to get the movie to fruition but he and his team were dedicated to telling Bethany's story with great care. I always try to inspire my son and give him encouragement and teach him to never lose site of his dreams or to lose hope. I know he has some struggles and sees the world differently from us but that does not mean he has to settle for less in his life. He should have just as much a chance as any kid to achieve and live his dream. I knew the story was a powerful one but was concerned about the shark attack and how it would be portrayed in the movie. The rating was PG so I thought it would be a movie Matty could see and I spoke to him about it to see if it was something he would want to see. The movies we usually go to are geared for kids and do not usually have mature subjects yet. They have an innocence to them. I still believed this would be a good movie for him to see because of the drive, dedication and courage of the girl in realizing her dream and passion which is the kind of message I want my son to learn.

I made sure grandma came with us so she could make sure Matty was ok during the movie. I really was looking forward to watching this as I was familiar with the story and saw interviews of Bethany Hamilton on ESPN. I thought she was incredible and I looked up to her and felt very proud of her and was inspired by her achievements and her positive attitude and courage. I find when I hear a story such as this I really want to get to learn about the person and find out how they get past the setbacks and turn a tragedy into a powerful and remarkable source for courage and inspiration.

I fell in love with the movie from beginning to end and loved the surfing scenes and the family dynamics portrayed. I thought the cast was tremendous. Bethany is played by AnnaSophia Robb, a young and very talented actress who played the gum chewer in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. The parents of Bethany in the movie are portrayed by Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid who were superb. She also has two brothers who support her through and encourage her along the way who are portrayed by Ross Thomas and Chris Brochu. The movie focuses on Bethany and her desire to surf and her strong religious convictions and desire to help others in need. She is a sweet girl who you really grow to like and root for. You will feel for her after the shark attack and pull for her to make a comeback and prove to herself that she can get back out on the surfboard. Other cast members in this movie are Craig T. Nelson who plays the doctor who helps Bethany and her father and Carrie Underwood who plays the youth minister of the religious group who helps to encourage Bethany through her ordeal.

A touching scene in the movie was when Bethany befriends a small boy who is terrified to go in the water in Phuket, Thailand where she is working in a humanitarian peace effort in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people back in 2004. She convinces the young boy to rest on the surf board and ride in a small wave. She helps him to overcome his fear and in doing so brings others back to the water to try it as well. It really brought tears to my eyes and made me realize how much one person can truly make a difference. By her reaching out to help others she also learned something very valuable and in that moment she realized that there was something much more important than surfing and that was love. When she went back home she devoted herself to coming back and competing once again in her sport of surfing.

When she arrived back from her trip she trained to compete and dedicated herself to doing her very best. The story is one that will make you realize the triumph of the human spirit and will bring a tear to your eyes as you find yourself rooting for Bethany. She eventually places fifth in the competition but she accomplished something very special and proved to herself and everyone else that she could indeed surf and once again compete with the best surfers and hold her own.

We all enjoyed this movie and Matty felt sad about what happened to Bethany but he also realized that she was very brave and he learned a valuable lesson about never giving up and that was what I was hoping he would learn from this movie. We all learned something pretty special from this movie and we all really enjoyed it.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Bethany Hamilton and AnnaSophia Robb

Soul Surfer


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    • ediann profile image

      ediann 6 years ago

      Thank you Wayne. I really appreciate that. We always try to instill in our son good values and the premise that he should try his best and to never get discouraged or give up, no matter what and this movie and Bethany's true life story are a perfect testament to that.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

      A very nicely done review of the movie and a rationale for seeing it. Matty is going to look back someday and realize that you exposed him to some really good stuff in preparing him for life. Thanks for sharing. WB