Bethany Hamilton Profile

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.

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    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 Speaking Videos

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Bethany Hamilton's Speech Descriptions

Rise Above
Hamilton’s courage and enthusiasm inspires audiences to face life head on and stand strong in their faith. Since losing her arm during a shark attack, Hamilton calls on her personal experience to help others overcome their adversity. She inspires audiences to believe they can do whatever they want if they commit to it and never give up.

Fighting to Get Back on the Board
Hamilton’s life changed the minute she got on her surfboard in 2003. Sharing candidly with audiences, Hamilton tells how she didn’t let adversity keep her down after the attack, and then how she rose to the challenge of professional competition with one arm. In this presentation, she also talks about how she dealt with the media attention and relied on her faith and positivity to embrace changes that would impact the rest of her life.

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Books by Bethany Hamilton:

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

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