Professional surfer and motivational speaker Bethany Hamilton told young girls and their parents on Saturday, “I had a lot of dreams.” Bethany told a sold-out crowd of some 400 admirers at Deerfield Country Club, “I always thought I would become a professional surfer, and when this situation happened, I couldn’t put my hair up and I really couldn’t imagine still becoming a professional surfer.”
Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton’s special visit to Delaware was made possible by MarkInc Ministries, which counsels people who have suffered a great loss. At the age of thirteen, Bethany lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark, which seemed to end her career as a rising surf star. But she returned to the water and within 2 years had won her first National title and is now considered to be one of the best surfers in the world. Her autobiography led film makers to create the hit movie Soul Surfer in 2011.
Bethany, who is from Hawaii, brought her husband Adam Dirks and 1-year-son Tobias to the Ride the Wave with Guest Speaker Bethany Hamilton event, and the teen admirers were thrilled to catch a glimpse of her entire family. When asked about her reaction to her accident, Bethany remarked, “I had a sense of calm, because I knew God had a plan for me. My mom would read the Bible with me a lot, and she encouraged me in my faith.” She went on to say, “I don’t look at having the loss of one arm as a bad thing. I like to focus on the things I can do.”
She told the Delaware teens that they should always believe in themselves, be nice to their friends and even people they don’t know, and trust that God will take care of them in tough situations.
When asked about some of the practicalities of being a mother and how she copes with that, Bethany said that changing a diaper was at first not easy. “I have to use my feet. So I do it as fast as I can.”
When her husband Adam took to the stage, he expressed his devotion to Bethany and talked about their first date — when they decided to jump a 40-foot cliff. “It was love at first jump,” he said. Adam said that he never really thought much about the loss of Bethany’s arm and that he has incredible admiration for all that she has accomplished and how many lives she has inspired and enriched by sharing her personal story of overcoming fear, determination, and triumph over adversity.