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SOUL SURFER

About Bethany Hamilton
BETHANY HAMILTON has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith, determination, and hope. Born into a family of surfers on February 8, 1990, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany began surfing at a young age. At the age of eight, Bethany entered her first surf competition—winning both the short and long board divisions and sparking a love for surf competition within her spirit.

On October 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai's North Shore. The attack took her left arm and seemed to end her career as a rising surf star just as it began. Bethany says:

"It was Jesus Christ who gave me peace when I was attacked by the shark. They had to get me to the beach, which took 20 minutes of paddling. ‘The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:6-8).”

After losing more than 60 percent of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude. Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal. Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer.

"It was what God had taught me growing up that helped me overcome my fear and get back on the board. ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go' (Joshua 1:9).”

In January of 2004, Bethany made her return to surf competition, placing fifth in the Open Women's division. With no intention of stopping, Bethany continued to enter and excel in competition. Just over a year after the attack she took first place in the Explorer Women's division of the 2005 National Scholastic Surfers Association National Championships—winning her first National Title. In 2007, Bethany realized her dream and turned pro. Bethany has since participated in numerous Association of Surfing Professionals and World Tour Events with her major highlight being a second place finish in the ASP 2009 World Junior Championships.

Since losing her arm, Bethany's story has been told in hundreds of media outlets and she has been recognized with numerous awards, public appearances, and various speaking engagements. In October 2004, Bethany shared her life story in her autobiography, Soul Surfer. Other books Bethany has written include Devotions for the Soul Surfer, Rise Above, A "Soul Surfer” Bible, Ask Bethany, and a fictional series of books based on her adventures: Clash, Burned, Storm, and Crunch. Bethany was the inspiration for Becky Baumgartner's 2007 documentary, Heart of a Soul Surfer.

From a young age, Bethany's parents instilled their faith in Jesus Christ; and at age 5, she made the decision to have a personal relationship with Him. Bethany's foundation of faith has been her backbone; her source of truth, hope, and strength. Out of the water, Bethany has grown from a young teenage girl with aspirations of becoming a professional surfer into a professional surfer with aspirations of becoming a beacon of inspiration and hope. Through the platform of professional sport, Bethany has been able to touch a large number of people with her message, charitable efforts, and overall spirit. Bethany just launched her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which supports shark attack survivors, traumatic amputees, and serves to inspire others through her life story, and is involved in numerous other charitable efforts.

"My youth leader, Sarah Hill, has been a really good support and encourager for me. God gave her a verse for me the day I was attacked: ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future''' (Jeremiah 29:11).”

Bethany's story is continually growing as she strives to be the best at whatever God calls her to do. The future is truly wide open for this young soul surfer!

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