- Category : Surfer
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (48,57)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 1
Bethany Meilani Hamilton (born February 8, 1990, Lihue, Hawaii) is an American professional surfer. She is known for surviving a shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off, and for overcoming the injury to ultimately return to professional surfing. She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released, based on the book and additional interviews. She has appeared on many television shows since the loss of her arm.
Shark attack and recovery
On October 31, 2003, at the age of 13, Hamilton went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai with best friend Alana Blanchard and Alana's father and brother. Around 7:30 a.m., with numerous turtles in the area, she was lying on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water, when a 14 to 15 foot tiger shark attacked her, severing her left arm just below the shoulder. The Blanchards helped paddle her back to shore, then Alana's father fashioned a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash and wrapped it around the stump of her arm, before she was rushed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital. By the time she arrived there she had lost over 60% of her blood. Her father, who was scheduled to have knee surgery that morning was already at the hospital, but she took his place in the operating room. She then spent seven more days in recovery at the hospital.
Despite the trauma of the incident, Hamilton was determined to return to surfing. Less than one month after the incident, she returned to her board. Initially, she adopted a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle, and she learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. After teaching herself to surf with one arm, on January 10, 2004, she entered a major competition. She now uses standard competitive performance short-boards.
Hamilton's surfboard that she was riding during the attack is on display at the California Surf Museum.
Since the attack, she has been a guest on numerous television shows, including The Biggest Loser, 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show and The Tonight Show, as well as in magazines People, Time and American Girl. Additionally, she was the cover story in the premier issue of niNe magazine. In 2004, she won the ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete and also received the Courage Teen Choice Award.
In 2004, MTV Books published Hamilton's book, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (ISBN 0-7434-9922-0), which describes her ordeal. Her story is also told in the 2007 short subject documentary film, Heart of a Soul Surfer, directed by Becky Baumgartner. Described as a "faith-based documentary", the film addresses Hamilton's courage and faith in Jesus Christ in the aftermath of the shark attack, and follows her quest for spiritual meaning.
On August 7, 2009, she was a contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and won $25,000. On May 16, 2010, she appeared on an episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
In March 2011, Hamilton did a video for the Christian organization, I Am Second, telling about her struggle after the shark attack and how she trusted in God to get her through it.
On April 8, 2011, a docudrama feature film Soul Surfer, based on her 2004 book, was released. Hamilton is portrayed by AnnaSophia Robb—with Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Craig T. Nelson, Carrie Underwood, Lorraine Nicholson, and Kevin Sorbo also starring in the film. Hamilton performs all the one-armed surfing stunts in the film.
On October 11, 2011, she appeared on the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting, in the episode titled "Duggars Under the Sea", when the Duggar family visited her, in Atlanta, Georgia.