What’s the chance of being bit by a shark? Maybe one in a million? It’s actually about 1 in 11.5 million. 65 shark attacks happen each year globally. Now doesn’t that make you feel a lot safer?
For Bethany Hamilton it happened at the age of 13. She was on the fast track to becoming one of the best surfers around when a shark grabbed her arm which she dangled in the water as she lay on her surfboard, waiting for a wave. Bethany was surfing with a friend and that girl’s father near their home at Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii. With her arm completely bitten off, fast-thinking and first aid using a surfboard leash as a tourniquet probably saved her. She lost 65% of her blood but survived. Amazingly, she was back on surfboard one month after the accident!
And she’s still surfing today, as well as inspiring others around the world that they can accomplish practically anything regardless of their disabilities. Hamilton turned her scars into stars. She promotes a number of non-profit organizations, wrote an autobiography called “Soul Surfer”, and it was made into a movie (soulsurferthemovie.com) in 2011. It features an all star cast–Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Underwood, and Annasophia Robb.
Hamilton doesn’t hide her missing arm by trying to cover it up with clothing. She actually wears fashionable apparel that shows the lost limb. It’s just as if it never happened. But it did, and it turned one surfer girl into a stronger, more compassionate human being, she says.
Photos: Bethany Hamilton surfing (left), and and her swimsuit and surfboard with the shark bite on exhibit formerly at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside.