Bethany Hamilton

by Carisa from San Diego

Bethany surfing a few years after the attack. ( ())
Bethany surfing a few years after the attack. ( ())

Many people characterize a hero as brave, courageous, someone who saves the day. But in truth, heroes are everywhere. They could be friends, family, that guy across the street, because anyone can be a hero. In my case, that hero would be Ms. Bethany Hamilton. She was born on the island of Kauai and raised on a surfboard, floating on the ocean water. She was a Christian child, an avid surfer and was majorly influenced by her family and close friends. One of her dreams was to become a professional surfer, and with her unmistakable talent, it was practically her destiny. Her life, in a sense, was perfect until one day in October of 2003 when she hit the waves. A shark ripped off a chunk of her board along with her left arm, almost killing her. Luckily, her friend was able to get her to safety and stop some of her bleeding before she got to the hospital. When she awoke to see she had no arm, she felt as if she were living a nightmare. At only 13 years old, her dreams seemed as though they had been torn right from her grasp and shattered on the floor. But she would soon overcome the challenges of daily life without an arm, even exceed expectations. Now, she is surfing in competitions again and is one of the best in the world. (John). A hero, in my eyes, is someone who does the admirable thing in a challenging situation. The one that never gives up when all hope seems lost. They may not necessarily be the one who saves the day, but they are the one to look up to. Bravery, dedication and generosity are only a few characteristics that describe Bethany and are reasons why I believe she is a hero.


Not long after the accident, Hamilton showed her bravery by jumping back into the shark-inhabited waters. The thought of another attack was daunting and getting rid of the fear would prove to be a challenge. Hamilton would show that her fear could not keep her off the waves. "When she was later asked if she had any fear of the ocean, Hamilton said 'I don't feel differently about the water, but I think of sharks more often.' These thoughts didn't keep her off the waves." ("Bethany Hamilton"). After the accident her fears of sharks greatly increased but she never let go of her dream. Even though some anxiety still lurks inside her, she toughs it out and continues to do what she loves. The bravery in her heart consumed her fear as she continued to pursue her goal, and she would not let measly sharks stand in the way of that. Hamilton still battles her fears as many of them do not go away. "There have been moments when Bethany and her mother are haunted by that October 2003 morning. But 'I hardly ever get worried,' she says, and she has ways of calming herself down." (Rochlin). Countless times fears find their way back into our eyes, and we learn to confront them, just as Bethany and her mother have. She copes with the fact that there are still sharks out there through both her faith and music, never letting them hold her back. They do not let the unfortunate incident control their lives, because the alternative of living in fear is a life no one would ever want to live. Hamilton leaves her fears behind her once she gets into the water. Her love and dedication towards surfing help her to become the brave figure that she is.

Being dedicated means a person will not stop at anything to continue what they do. It requires determination, willingness and the pure passion for the thing they do. This was Hamilton's perspective: "As the wound healed her focus returned to the water. Not only would she continue to ride waves, but she also decided she would retrain herself." (Rochlin). Just like a little kid loves candy, Bethany Hamilton loves the ocean. She was not just dedicated to the sport of surfing, but she loved it to the point where she could not live without it. Hamilton never strayed from her dreams because she would not let anything get in her way of them. She later defied what several others thought she could not do. "At the time of the attack, many doubted if Hamilton could ever surf competitively again, but she just went back into the water only a month later and pushed through it." (Boudreau, Litoff, Holmberg). Her commitment to the sport was doubted but those doubters were soon proven wrong. Hamilton was so dedicated to her passion that she never gave up on it, even after she lost her arm. Her love for surfing was so strong it pulled her back to riding the waves. Not long after, the results of her determination were showing prominently. "In January 2004, less than three months after the attack, Hamilton returned to surfing competition at Kailoa-Kona in Hawaii." ("Bethany Hamilton"). The loss of an arm would not diminish her love of surfing, nor her determination to achieve her goals. She would not let an injury keep her from the dreams that she was focused on achieving, and would only see it as a reason to work harder. After the horrible experience of having to lose an arm, Hamilton was able to get back on board. Only through her hard work and dedication to her sport was she able to achieve this and much more.

Hamilton helping Nick Vujicic (
Hamilton helping Nick Vujicic (

Bethany Hamilton does not just leave her heart in the waves, though, as she is often found supporting charities and helping others. She is not only brave and determined, but also very giving towards others. With her many travels and busy schedule, people might think she wouldn't have time to give her two-cents, but "Hamilton travels the world for surfing competitions but also for causes she believes in." (Boudreau, Litoff, Holmberg). Bethany uses her time and gifts not only on herself, but to support others. She uses her fame to help both noble causes and people in need. As she promotes causes, she puts herself out there as an inspiration to others that anything is possible. Her giving heart eventually led to her endorsement of more causes. "She has teamed up with the Christian humanitarian agency World Vision to raise money for disabled children all around the world." ("Bethany Hamilton"). As she has gotten more attention, she has used it to help others. The fact that she went through the attack helps her connect with amputees, giving them both hope and encouragement. Bethany's work led her to create her own organization to help others. "She gives motivational talks and, through her nonprofit foundation, Friends of Bethany, she works with other amputees and shark-attack survivors." (Rochlin). Hamilton's journey has led her to fame, but she does not just bask in the glory. Her story gives her an opportunity and she uses it to inspire others. Her work through the foundation helps others realize that there is hope, and she is their example. As many other people would just stand in the influential light of their achievement, Hamilton used hers to help and encourage others.

Bethany Hamilton has proven herself to be an inspiration and as a hero. She is brave, dedicated, and uses her fame for the better. Not many can continue to pursue their dreams when part of them has been taken away. Hamilton has shown commitment to the things she loves and has always expressed a never-give-up attitude. When fame came from her story, she turned the attention off of herself and used it to help others. The story, many agree, is an inspiration in itself but to me, it is her mindset after the whole ordeal that is inspiring. "'I definitely would allow the shark attack to happen,' Hamilton said. 'The thing for me is I know that God allowed it to happen because of all the good stuff that has come from this terrible experience.'" (Boudreau, Litoff, Holmberg). The attitude that Hamilton carries about the attack leaves many admiring the young girl for her courage. The appreciation she has for how her heartbreaking story can lead to good is just another example of how she is an inspiration. As she embraces the past, she shows the wisdom that would not be found in most teenage girls. Bethany has changed her stars, in a sense, making good of what was bad. Through the battles she has fought, the actions she had taken and how she lives today, she is an inspiration. She is a role-model that proves that you can do anything as long as you set your heart to it. Her inspiration makes her my hero.

Works Consulted:

BOUDREAU, ABBIE, ALYSSA LITOFF, and SARA HOLMBERG. "One-Armed Surfing Star Says Upcoming Biopic Is 'Spot On'" ABC News. ABC News Network, 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 02 May 2012. .

John, Emma. "Riding the Storm." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 27 June 2009. Web. 08 May 2012. .

Rochlin, Margy. "True Grit: Bethany Hamilton's Story." Ladies' Home Journal, May 2011. Web. 09 May 2012. .

Page created on 6/21/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 7/14/2017 12:39:49 AM

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