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One of the world’s most influential surfers, Bethany Hamilton was attacked while surfing at the age of 13 by a 16-foot-long tiger shark that severely severed her left arm. Bleeding profusely she had to paddle 30 minutes to reach shore in order to get medical help and save her life. After losing 60% of her blood and undergoing multiple surgeries, she returned to the water a month later, seizing her first national title the following year.

A devout Christian since age five, Bethany Hamilton put her faith in God to help her transition through the psychological and physical ordeal of losing her arm. In addition to taking up surfing again, she made the commitment to use her personal story to share God’s love with people all around the world, as an inspirational keynote speaker, author and appearing on some of the country’s most watched news, talk, and reality shows. In 2004 MTV Books published her memoir, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. It served as the inspiration for the 2011 feature film, Soul Surfer, the second movie to depict Bethany’s ordeal after the 2007 short documentary Heart of a Soul Surfer.

To date Bethany has touched the live of millions of people with her faith and courageous story of how she pursued her dream to become a professional surfer despite her accident. She is dedicated to seeing millions of people become unstoppable through her speaking engagements, charitable works, and publications on young women’s health.

Full Profile

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.

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.

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.

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!


Bethany Hamilton Speaker Videos Back to top

Bethany Hamilton - Liberty University Convocation


“I want to point out how important it is for us to know that we can overcome any obstacles with Christ as our Savior and that relationship we can have with him and how knowing God and living our lives for him can give us new reason and new life in him and just direction in the different times of our life we go through.” Bethany Hamilton illustrates how faith in God can help everyone turn obstacles into opportunities.

Bethany shares both her and her husband’s story, explaining how God used the infamous shark attack to put her in a position where she has been able to bring hope and inspiration to millions of people’s lives. Regarding her husband, she relates how his battle with drugs and alcohol prepared him for a career as a Christian youth minister, detailing that he is able to connect with hundreds of vulnerable youths because he was once in their shoes.

On-Stage Interview


Bethany Hamilton addresses how she handled overnight fame and international media attention after losing her arm in a shark attack at the age of thirteen. She points out that at the time, she already was well known in the surf world due to the championships she had won in her age group.

“I felt like God had just prepared me for this journey that he had for me,” she confesses. “God wants to take all of us on this type of journey. Maybe it’s not the same going through a shark attack, but he has something super unique and exciting for each of us if we’re willing to go for it.”





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Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing—not even the loss of her arm—could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany responded to the shark’s stealth attack with the calm of a girl with God on her side. Pushing pain and panic aside, she began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: “Get to the beach....” And when the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was “When can I surf again?” it became clear that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story—a tale of courage and faith that this soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.

Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer, her recovery after the attack, the adjustments she’s made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing—perhaps even less so—than the soul


Soul Surfer Devotions

In this devotional, Bethany shares stories of women to admire, prayers to focus on, and wipeouts to avoid. Girls will hear thoughts on friends, family, faith, gossip, and peer pressure—Bethany covers it all.


Rise Above: A 90-Day Devotional

In Rise Above, a book of devotions, teen surfing star Bethany Hamilton shares with young girls her courage and enthusiasm for God, inspiring them to face life head on and stand strong in their faith


Bethany Hamilton - Liberty University Convocation


“I want to point out how important it is for us to know that we can overcome any obstacles with Christ as our Savior and that relationship we can have with him and how knowing God and living our lives for him can give us new reason and new life in him and just direction in the different times of our life we go through.” Bethany Hamilton illustrates how faith in God can help everyone turn obstacles into opportunities.

Bethany shares both her and her husband’s story, explaining how God used the infamous shark attack to put her in a position where she has been able to bring hope and inspiration to millions of people’s lives. Regarding her husband, she relates how his battle with drugs and alcohol prepared him for a career as a Christian youth minister, detailing that he is able to connect with hundreds of vulnerable youths because he was once in their shoes.

On-Stage Interview


Bethany Hamilton addresses how she handled overnight fame and international media attention after losing her arm in a shark attack at the age of thirteen. She points out that at the time, she already was well known in the surf world due to the championships she had won in her age group.

“I felt like God had just prepared me for this journey that he had for me,” she confesses. “God wants to take all of us on this type of journey. Maybe it’s not the same going through a shark attack, but he has something super unique and exciting for each of us if we’re willing to go for it.”