Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton
You may not know the name Bethany Hamilton but probably should. Nicknamed, the “Soul Surfer,” Hamilton is one of the bravest athletes in recent memory. Growing up in Hawaii, Hamilton dreamed of becoming a pro surfer. She was well on her way to achieving that goal when she was brutally attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing one morning near her home in Kauai. She was only 13 at the time and suffered terrible injuries, including the loss of 60% of her blood and almost her entire left arm. Hamilton made an amazing recovery and was released from the hospital only one week after the incident. Equally impressive was her attitude about getting back in the water. A mere month after the attack, Hamilton was up on a board again. Her parents were there every step of the way. In 2004, at 14-years old, Hamilton won the NSSA National Competition in Australia. She attributed her victory to the mantra she lived by growing up. “Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of,” Hamilton said. A model of consistency, Hamilton has placed in over a dozen global competitions in her surfing career. Hamilton has also made a huge impact out of the water. In 2004, she won an ESPY and Teen Choice awards and has appeared on numerous other television programs. In 2011, her autobiography, “Soul Surfer,” was made into a major motion picture. Hamilton acted as a stunt person during filming and did the one-arm surfing shots, naturally. Hamilton is an enduring symbol of courage and perseverance. She understands the responsibility that goes with celebrity and has used that fame for good causes. Hamilton has done work for the Christian relief organization, World Vision, as well as, The Women’s Sports Foundation, and Surf Aid International. Along with her family and friends, Hamilton started the Friends of Bethany Hamilton Foundation to support shark attack survivors, traumatic amputees, and to inspire people through her life story. Hamilton sums up her outlook in simple terms. “People can do whatever they want if they just set their heart to it, and just never give up, and just go out there and do it,” she says. Hamilton is now married and gave birth to a son in 2015.