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Bethany Hamilton is the Soul Surfer with One Arm
The recent movie, Soul Surfer, is not only a great family and inspirational film with good acting, it is also the true story of what happened to Bethany Hamilton when she was 13-14 yrs. It is a story that inspires and is familiar to those facing adversity.
In 2003, Bethany was an up and coming surfing champion. She had already won several contests in Hawaii for her age group. She even had sponsors willing to pay her, then, one day, she was out with others waiting for a wave to ride when suddenly a 15 foot Tiger shark attacked her tearing her arm off. It happened in a flash but luckily her friends stopped the bleeding and got her to a hospital. Coming from a Christian background, she did question and got angry at God as to why this event was allowed to occur. Of course, her peers had no answers except something good was going to come out from it. She went through periods of simply giving up by smashing her surf boards, stopped competing and was filled with self pity. Basically, she lost direction because the one thing she loved to do was surf and compete. Now, with only one arm, what was taken for granted before was now very difficult to do: balance, holding the board, catching a wave. Bethany did hit bottom and basically gave up surfing. Then, her dad created a handle in the center of the board. A handle that she could grip and control the board with. With this simple addition, Bethany began her slow recovery and eventually returned to win more surfing championships.
Now 21, she surfs professionally and is fully supported with a host of sponsors. In 2005, she placed first in the National Scholastic Surfing contest and in 2008, she began to compete full time. Bethany never gave up on what she loved doing. She pushed herself after the attack to build her strength up by running, weights and a lean diet that lacks meat. She was inspired by her parents and family, all surfers, but ultimately, it was her decision.