My Life /
October 31, 2023

A Replay of the Last 20 Years

October 31st, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of losing my arm.


It has been so amazing for me to think about the last 20 years and all that God has done with my story, both in my life and the lives of others. There has been such a huge ripple effect!

I thought it would be fun to look back and kind of replay of all that has happened.

2003 – Age 13

On Oct. 31st, I was attacked by a shark and my left arm was traumatically amputated to my shoulder. However, I was determined not to let this stop me from surfing! On Nov 26th I was back in the water, re-learning to surf with one arm.

Newspaper article describing Bethany's shark attack

2004 – Age 14

My comeback story received lots of publicity this year. I was featured on many news outlets and media interviews and received the MTV “Teen Choice Award” for courage. My bestselling autobiography Soul Surfer was also released!

Teenage Bethany poses on the red carpet of the Teen Choice Awards

2005 – Age 15

I won the US National under-18 surf championships!! I also visited Thailand with World Vision and helped the orphans enjoy the ocean for the first time since the Tsunami.

Bethany holds her trophies at the NSSA Nationals

2006 – Age 16

My Soul Surfer Devotions book was published! I also took a few amazing surf trips this year for sponsorship gigs with RipCurl and other filming projects.

2007 – Age 17

I toured international film festivals to showcase my newly released personal documentary, The Heart of a Soul Surfer. That was a ton of fun! I also started doing more motivational speaking at events and conferences.

Bethany signs her book for a line of young girls.

2008 – Age 18

I placed 3rd in the Roxy Pro in Australia! This was also my first year surfing full-time on the Women’s Qualifying Series (WQS) Pro surfing circuit. I traveled the world surfing and training for this and by the end of the year I finished 14th in the world on the Pro Qualifying Series rankings!

Bethany maneuvers on the wave in a surf competition

2009 – Age 19

I was stoked to place 2nd in the World Junior (under 20) Championships in Sydney, Australia! Many media outlets and top shows re-featured my story. I was doing interviews and guest appearances like crazy! I also tow surfed the famous big wave, “Jaws”, which really sparked my love for big-wave surfing!

Bethany smiles with Carissa Moore

2010 – Age 20

My upcoming movie, Soul Surfer, started production in Hawaii! My family and I were very involved in this process and were on set almost every day. I continued to be on many TV shows and news interviews.

Bethany & Dennis Quaid smile on the Soul Surfer set.

2011 – Age 21

SoulSurfer – featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt – hit theaters on April 8th! We traveled through the US, UK, France and Ireland to promote the movie. The movie was given several awards and received international praise!

The Soul Surfer cast and the Hamilton family smile at the premier of Soul Surfer.

2012 – Age 22

I spoke at churches and events all over the U.S. this year. I traveled to Japan with Samaritan’s Purse and Hope Japan to visit tsunami victims.

2013 – Age 23

Adam asked me to marry him and I said, “yes!!” We got married in August surrounded by all our family and friends. This was also the 10th anniversary of the shark attack. My “Friends of Bethany” Foundation (now called the Beautifully Flawed Foundation) hosted its first retreat for young women with limb differences.

Bethany & Adam smile after Adam proposed

2014 – Age 24

Adam and I competed on season 25 of The Amazing Race! I also spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and made a cameo appearance in Dolphin Tale 2. I was thrilled to take 1st place at the Surf ’N Sea Pipeline Pro! I also released signature sandals through Cobian Footwear.

Bethany & Adam pose with their backpacks and gear as they prepare to start the Amazing Race.

2015 – Age 25

Our first son, Tobias, was born! I continued speaking at churches and events all around the U.S.

Bethany and Adam smile with Baby Tobias

2016 – Age 26

I placed 3rd in the Fiji Women’s Pro at Cloudbreak in Tavarua, Fiji!! I also surfed “Jaws” on Maui and this nominated me for the Women’s Best Performance in the WSL Big Wave Awards.

Bethany surfs Jaws.

2017 – Age 27

I was so excited to be inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, CA! I also was honored as SIMA’s Water Woman of the Year.

Bethany signs her name in wet concrete at the the Surfer's Hall of Fame

2018 – Age 28

Wesley, our second son, was born! My new documentary, Unstoppable, premiered after many years of filming and production!

Bethany and Adam smile with Tobias and Westley

2019 – Age 29

Unstoppable released theatrically and digitally in the U.S. along with two new books. I launched my “Unstoppable Life” online courses to encourage people to overcome the obstacles in their lives. The Beautifully Flawed Foundation launches the Forge, a retreat for men with limb differences.

Bethany & her family smile at the Unstoppable Premier

2020 – Age 30

I announced my third pregnancy! In the midst of a global pandemic, I also gave away 2,500 memberships to my online courses for free.

2021 – Age 31

Micah is born! With the world still mostly closed down for travel, I did most my motivational speaking and interviews online from home.

Bethany's family smiles adoringly at newborn Micah.

2022 – Age 32

My family and I started traveling again and I got back into speaking across the country and surfing around the world. I competed in the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout and inaugural Pipeline Pro. My ‘Ohana Experience for Mothers and Daughters launched and my children’s book, Surfing Past Fear, released with Brave Books.

Bethany drops into a right-handed barrel

2023 – Age 33

I celebrated 20 years of overcoming! Our fourth child – a girl! – was born. Alaya completely stole all our hearts. The ‘Ohana Experience continued to grow and I did more traveling for speaking events.

Bethany's family poses by the beach with their newborn daughter

The ripple effect from my story was so huge! Your story can have a ripple effect too, if you surrender it to God.

Know that when you are living in His truth and Jesus’ promises of life, peace, and salvation through what He did for you on the cross, your story is exactly what it should be. You have been redeemed and wherever your life takes you, you can find joy in all circumstances, a joy that only comes from Him!

Thank you for being apart of my journey and encouraging me over the years through your thoughts and prayers.💛


You might also like

Ready to be unstoppable?

Sign up to receive my tips and stories on how to surf into a life you love.