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Don't Change What You Are: The Bethany Hamilton Story
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Don't Change What You Are: The Bethany Hamilton Story

On October 31, 2003, soul surfer Bethany Hamilton, just thirteen, went for a morning swim on her surf board with her friend, Alana Blanchard. Alana’s father and brother joined them. This was at Tunnel’s beach in Kauai.

There were a lot of turtles in the water that morning, this much they knew. What they didn’t know, was what was about to happen to them. Right around 7:30 AM, Bethany was swimming on her surfboard with her left arm hanging right along side of her friend Alana. That’s when a fourteen foot Tiger Shark came up right alongside of her, and bit off her left arm. Alana’s father saved Bethany’s life by applying a tourniquet, and rushed her to the hospital. Shd'd lost around 60% of her blood supply.

Bethany grew up in Hawaii, at home in the ocean. She was from a family of surfers, professionals and national competitors. From the time that she was able to walk, Bethany had devoted her life to two passions: surfing and serving her higher power, God. She spent the majority of her time in the ocean.

While Bethany was adapting to living with one arm, the challenges that she faced in doing the mundane things that she took for granted before, were very unsettling to her. Not to mention, it was difficult for her to surf the big waves without an adaptable board. She was unhappy with the prosthetic arm because it didn’t do anything other than get in her way.

The turmoil was largely over a month and a half later, after Bethany put this in the hands of her higher power. Her family was able to get her adaptable surfboards with a handle on them for her right hand. She hired personal trainers for overall whole body workouts to gain balance, strength and stamina. She adapted to doing everything with her right hand and even her mouth. To get by, she gave surfing lessons, wrote her autobiography, wrote a documentary about herself and did TV shows. The movie, "Soul Surfer", was taken from Bethany’s autobiography. She went back to competing. She became an ordained minister. She also teaches contestants how to surf on the television show "The Biggest Loser".

Had she not lost her arm, Bethany would not have experienced all of this. Had she stopped surfing, she would not have what she has now. The difference is, before the shark attack, Bethany thought her life was completely about surfing and serving God. After she lost her left arm, she learned that life is about relationships, people, and life first. But surfing is her passion, and her vehicle to reach others.

Bethany is so inspirational to me because she used her loss to honor life and relationships while enhancing the sport of surfing as a soul surfer. I don’t think that we are asked to change what we are. I think we are asked to do something with what we are, instead. Things happen to us in life. What we do about them, is living.

 

 

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  1. Teresa Thomas
    Teresa Thomas
    Wow!! A very interesting story indeed. Vote #2. Nice job Susan.
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  2. Lil Nana
    Lil Nana
    Voted....Great blog..I remember when her story came out...WOW!! I cried thru the movie...she is such an insperation to all!!!
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  3. Akanksha
    Very inspirational!
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  4. pftsusan
    pftsusan
    Thank you everyone. I hooked up with Bethany, on twitter last night.. She has an authorized account there. She tweets all about her surfing and serving, positive thinking and solutions too. She does answer her fans. The account is Bethany Hamilton on twitter, for those of you who would like to follow. You could also follow her on facebook too.
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  5. Broken English
    Broken English
    Voted. A hugely inspirational girl, and as you say, her story shows that often these tragic events happen for a reason.
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    1. pftsusan
      pftsusan
      That's for sure. Maggie, I don't think your vote recorded if you want to hit it again. That does happen to me sometimes too. Thank you.
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      1. Broken English
        Broken English
        Yes it does happen. I did it again and it went up to 5, so clearly it has registered now!
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  6. Shabs Online
    Shabs Online
    Beautiful blog about a brave girl...very inspiring....Thnz for bringing her story to us! Definitely voted, dear! :)
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  7. Rene
    Rene
    Vote 8. I had read just a little bit of this story as it came out in the news... I applaud her for not giving up on what she loves to do. Very inspiring!
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  8. Maceys Mommy
    Voted! Great job loved reading this as I remember watching the movie and thinking what an inspiration she is!
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    1. pftsusan
      pftsusan
      Thank you for voting.
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  9. SignLanguage
    Yes, I remember seeing the movie a short while ago. She's a brave soul to say the least! And her trip to a third-world country - which was it? I forgot - inspired her so much, too. I think that was what put her back on the surf board because she DID lose hope for a short while. Voted! When you have the chance, stop by my new article, The Roots of Sign Languages.
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    1. SignLanguage
      I'm number 13!
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