August 24, 2011

Success Stories: Bethany Hamilton and Never Giving Up

Soul surfer is a surf term referring to someone who surfs for the sheer joy of doing so. It's also the title of a recent movie about Bethany Hamilton, who seems to summarize the word perfectly. Bethany, though, is not just an example of the importance of passion, she also demonstrates the powers of strength, courage, perseverance, determination, and faith. For those of you who don't already know the story, in 2003, then 13-year-old Bethany didn't spend Halloween enjoying the holiday with friends, instead she was recovering in the hospital. That morning she had been attacked by a shark and lost her arm and a lot of blood. Miraculously, she survived, but it seemed that she had lost a lot more than her arm since she loved surfing and planned to pursue it as a career.

She didn't give up though. Instead, she was back in the water only a few weeks later in November teaching herself how to surf again, overcoming her personal obstacles and likely fear and self-doubt. In January she began competing again and took 5th place at her first competition. A year after that, she was the champion in the NSSA National Competition. Since then, she continues to surf professionally in competitions all over the world and has achieved impressive rankings in these competitions.

Sometimes it may seem like your dreams and goals are impossible and everything in life is working to stop you from realizing it. You may feel frustrated, scared, worthless, or confused or simply just like you are wasting your time working towards the impossible and impractical. I'm sure sometimes Bethany felt the same way. Yet she overcame a shark attack and the loss of her arm, got back in the water, learned how to surf again, and is living her dreams. While she lost her arm, she gained the ability to reach more people and share her inspiring story of hope with countless people and that is a blessing in it's own way. In the recent movie based on her story, her character says "I don't need easy, I just need possible." The real life Bethany Hamilton is proof that you really can overcome just about any obstacle. 

“When you get in the Impact Zone, get back up because you never know what’s over the next wave.” -Soul Surfer

For more of Bethany's story and to read or see the inspiring book and movie, check out these links

Bethany's Official Website 

*Update 9/4/11: Thanks so much to Bethany for featuring this post as a news item in her most recent Coconut Wire newlsetter! I'm honored! 

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