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, the Rell Sun Menehune event on Oahu, where she won both the short and long board divisions. This sparked a love for surf competition within her spirit.
At the age of thirteen, on October 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. After losing over 60% 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. In January of 2004, Bethany made her return to surf competition; placing 5th in the Open Women’s division of that contest. With no intention of stopping, Bethany continued to enter and excel in competition. Just over a year after the attack she took 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships – winning her first National Title.
In 2007, Bethany realized her dream and turned pro. Bethany has since participated in numerous ASP and World Tour Events with a major highlight being a second place finish in the ASP 2009 World Junior Championships. (See Career Highlights and Surf Related News for more results)
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. (See Awards & Appearances)
In October 2004, Bethany shared her life story in her autobiography entitled Soul Surfer. Seven years later, the book was made into a major motion picture bearing the same title which released in 2011. Other books Bethany has written include “Soul Surfer Devotions,” “Rise Above,” a “Soul Surfer” Bible, “Ask Bethany,” and “Clash,” “Burned,” “Storm,” and “Crunch.” (See Books for publishing information) Further, Bethany was the inspiration behind Becky Baumgartner’s 2007 documentary entitled 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 twenty-four-year old 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 is involved in numerous charitable efforts, including her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which supports shark attack survivors, amputees, and serves to inspire others through her life story. (See Give Back for more charitable partnerships)
She strives to be an example and an advocate for healthy living. Sharing her expertise as an athlete, in her 2014 book “Body and Soul,” she helps young girls develop a healthy lifestyle, understand their changing bodies, gain confidence, and establish a pattern of healthy living starting at a young age. Both her book and lifestyle emphasize the importance balance of physical and spiritual health.
Married at the age of 23 to Christian youth minister, Adam Dirks, Bethany has a story that 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!