Inspiring stories would often help people become more motivated to achieve their goals or dreams, and one of the famous Hawaiians that truly has a very inspiring story is Bethany Hamilton. In case you don’t know, Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer who survived a shark attack in 2003 that left her with no left arm.
Despite the permanent setback of not having a left arm, Bethany Hamilton was still able to return to professional surfing and still achieve success in the sport. To know more about her life and struggle, here is the story of the famous Hawaiian Bethany Hamilton.
The Early Life of Bethany Hamilton
Bethany Meilani Hamilton was born in Lihue, Hawaii, on February 8, 1990. Hamilton was born to Tom and Cheri Hamilton, and she has two older brothers named Noah and Timothy. At the age of three, Hamilton learned how to surf, and by the age of eight, she was already competing in surfing tournaments throughout Hawaii.
When Hamilton was ten years old, she got her first sponsorship. After she entered sixth grade, Hamilton was home-schooled by her mother, and this home-schooling continued until high school.
The Shark Attack
On October 31, 2003, Hamilton, who was 13 years old during that time, went surfing in the morning along Tunnels Beach, which is located in Kauai, Hawaii. Unfortunately, Tunnels Beach has shark-infested waters. Hamilton went surfing with her best friend named Alana Blanchard, who brought her father and brother with her.
While in the water, Hamilton and Alana were lying on their surfboard, with Hamilton lying stomach-down and her left arm dangling in the water. While talking to each other, a 14-foot-long tiger shark swam swiftly toward the two girls and bit off Hamilton’s dangling left arm. Alana Blanchard’s father and brother immediately helped Hamilton get back to the shore, and Alana’s father created a tourniquet out of the rash guard in order to stop the bleeding in the stump of Hamilton’s left arm.
Hamilton was then rushed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Kauai. When she arrived at the hospital, the doctors said that she had already lost more than 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock, which is a state wherein the affected person will have an increased heart rate, pale skin, and extremely low blood pressure.
Fortunately, Hamilton’s father was already at the hospital because he was scheduled to have knee surgery on the same day. Hamilton would then take her father’s place or turn in the operating room so that she can immediately get surgery for her left arm.
Even though she experienced trauma from the incident, Hamilton’s determination to continue surfing never wavered. Just a few weeks after the surgery, Hamilton was able to train for surfing again. Because she lost her left arm, which is important for paddling and controlling the movements of the surfboard, she had to compromise by using a custom-made board that is longer and a little bit thicker than a regular board. This longer and thicker surfboard allowed her to have better balance while surfing. Hamilton’s board also had a handle for her right hand. While training, Hamilton had to kick more in order to make up for her missing left arm.
Bethany Hamilton returned to professional surfing on November 26, 2003, approximately one month after the shark incident. She entered her first major competition after the incident on January 10, 2004. The surfboard that she was using during the incident was donated and put on display at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.
Bethany Hamilton as an Inspiration
Bethany Hamilton would appear on various TV shows to talk about her story and how she overcame her trauma. Some of the TV shows she has appeared as a guest in include Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In 2004, she would publish an autobiography titled “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board,” which would later be adapted into a film titled “Soul Surfer,” which was released in 2011.
In 2012, Hamilton met Adam Dirk, a youth minister that had mutual friends with Hamilton. Dirk and Hamilton became engaged in 2013, and as of 2023, they already have three sons. In addition to being a professional surfer, Hamilton has also offered mentorship classes on personal healing, relationships, and faith. Also, Hamilton would sometimes appear as a motivational speaker at various events and meetings.
Bethany Hamilton serves as an inspiration for many disabled people that want to achieve their dreams despite their disabilities. Through Hamilton, people will be able to see that anything and everything is possible as long as you set your mind to it and work your hardest in order to achieve your goals.