Bethany Meilani Hamilton-Dirks (born February 8, 1990) is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off but who ultimately returned to professional surfing. She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released.
Hamilton surfing in September 2016
|Born||Bethany Meilani Hamilton|
February 8, 1990
Lihue, Hawaii, U.S.
|Residence||Kauai, Hawaii, U.S|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||155 lb (70 kg)|
|Major achievements||ESPY Award (2004)|
NSSA National Helping Kids Champion (2005)
2nd place, ASP World Junior Championships (2008)
|Placings in surf competitions|
|1998||Rell Sun Menehune||1st||Australia|
|2002||Open Women's Division of the NSSA||1st||USA|
|2004||NSSA National Competition||1st||Australia|
|2005||NSSA National Competition||1st||USA|
|2005||O'Neill Island Girl Junior Pro tournament||1st||USA|
|2006||NSSA National Championship: 18-and-under Finalist||5th||USA|
|2006||Hawaii Team Highlights||4th
|2007||T & C Pipeline Women's Pro||1st||USA|
|2008||US Open of Surfing—Huntington Beach, California||5th||USA|
|2008||Roxy Pro Surf Festival—Phillip Island||3rd||Australia|
|2009||Rio Surf International in Rio de Janeiro||3rd||Brazil|
|2009||Billabong ASP World Junior Championship||2nd||Australia|
|2014||Surf 'n' Sea Pipeline Women's Pro||1st||USA|
|2015||Swatch Women's Pro||13th||USA|
|2016||Fiji Women's Pro||3rd||Fiji|
Shark attack and recoveryEdit
On October 31, 2003, Hamilton, aged 13 at the time, went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai, with her best friend Alana Blanchard, Alana's father, Holt, and brother Byron, when a 14-foot-long (4.3 m) tiger shark attacked her, severing her left arm just below the shoulder. The Blanchards helped paddle her back to shore, then Alana's father fashioned a tourniquet out of a rash guard and wrapped it around the stump of her arm. She was rushed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital. By the time she arrived there she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock. A doctor living in a hotel nearby raced to the rescue. Her father, who was scheduled to have knee surgery that same morning, was already there, but she took his place in the operating room. Bethany was back in the water within three to four weeks of the attack. During subsequent media interviews, she confirmed that she felt normal when she was bitten and did not feel much pain from the bite at the moment of the disaster, but felt numb on the way to the hospital.
When the news broke out of the shark attack, a family of fishermen led by Ralph Young presented to investigators photos of a 14-foot-long (4.3 m) tiger shark they had caught and killed about one mile from the attack site. It had surfboard debris in its mouth. When measurements of its mouth were compared with those of Hamilton's broken board, it matched. In late 2004, the police officially confirmed that it was the same one that had attacked her.
Initially, she adopted a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle, and she learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. After teaching herself to surf with one arm, on January 10, 2004, she entered a major competition. She now uses standard competitive performance short-boards. The shark-bitten surfboard that Hamilton was riding during the attack, as well as the bathing suit she was wearing at the time, a gift from ocean photographer Aaron Chang, are on display at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.
Since the attack, she has appeared as a guest on numerous television shows. Her manager, Roy "Dutch" Hofstetter, who went on to produce the film Soul Surfer, managed her rise through the media from shark attack victim to inspirational role model. The television shows she has appeared on include The Biggest Loser, 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, The Tonight Show and Dude Perfect, as well as in magazines People, Time, and American Girl. Additionally, she was the cover story in the premier issue of niNe magazine.
In 2004, MTV Books published Hamilton's book, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (ISBN 0-7434-9922-0), which describes her ordeal. Her story is also told in the 2007 short subject documentary film Heart of a Soul Surfer, directed by Becky Baumgartner. Described as a "faith-based documentary," the film addresses her devout Christianity and the courage and faith in Jesus Christ in the aftermath of the shark attack, and follows her quest for spiritual meaning.
On August 7, 2009, she was a contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and won $25,000. On May 16, 2010, she appeared on an episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In March 2011, Hamilton appeared in a video for the Christian organization I Am Second, telling of her struggle after the shark attack and how she trusted in God to get her through it.
On April 8, 2011, a feature film Soul Surfer, based on her 2004 book, was released in theaters. Hamilton was portrayed by actress AnnaSophia Robb. Hamilton herself performed all the one-armed surfing stunts in it. The movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 2, 2011.
Hamilton plays herself in the film Dolphin Tale 2, which revolves around the baby dolphin Hope's story. Filming began in Clearwater, Florida, on October 7, 2013. It was released on September 12, 2014. Hamilton and her husband, Adam Dirks, competed as a team on the 25th season of The Amazing Race, finishing in third place. Filmed in June 2014, it premiered on September 26 the same year on CBS.
Bethany is involved in numerous charitable efforts, including her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which reaches out to amputees and youth, encouraging a broken world by offering hope to overcome through Jesus Christ. Using her platform as a professional athlete to promote living a fit and healthy lifestyle, she authored the book BODY AND SOUL (ISBN 9780310731054) in 2014. Bethany’s latest project, BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE, a surf documentary which showcases her as one of the best women surfers in the world was released in 2019 accompanied by a photo book (ISBN 978-0310764854) along with a children’s book (ISBN 978-0310764977).
Hamilton was home-schooled from 6th grade through high school. Bethany is a Christian. She is the youngest of three siblings. In early 2012, Hamilton met youth minister Adam Dirks through mutual friends. They became engaged in April 2013. The couple were married on August 18, 2013, in front of 300 friends and family members at a secluded 130-acre estate on Kauai's north shore, near where she grew up. The couple have a son named Tobias who was born in 2015. In March 2018, they welcomed their second son, Wesley.
- "Prizes & Placing - 2015 Swatch Women's Pro".
- "Results - 2016 Fiji Women's Pro".
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- Guy Bagley. "Current Exhibits". Surfmuseum.org. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
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- "Bethany Hamilton Appears in New 'Dolphin Tale 2'". June 17, 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- "Cast features survivor veterans, surfer Bethany Hamilton". May 31, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "Friends of Bethany Hamilton – A non-profit which reaches out to encourage a broken world offering hope to overcome through Jesus Christ". www.friendsofbethany.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (2018) IMDb. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- "BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE". Unstoppable. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- "Bethany Hamilton | Unstoppable Books". bethanyhamilton.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- "Bethany Hamilton: About". Archived from the original on April 29, 2014.
- Dodd, Johnny (March 28, 2014). "Bethany Hamilton: My Husband Keeps Me Surfing". People. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- Webber, Stephanie (August 18, 2013). "Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton Marries Adam Dirks". Us Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Wicks, Krista (May 7, 2013). "Surfer Bethany Hamilton Engaged". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- "Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton Engaged to Wed Youth Minister Adam Dirks". July 12, 2013.
- "Bethany Hamilton's Official Wedding Photo". Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- "Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton Gets Married to Christian Youth Minister Adam Dirks". August 18, 2013.
- Herreria, Carla (June 15, 2015). "Bethany Hamilton Introduces New Baby Boy With Adorable Family Photo". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
- Bethany Hamilton [@bethanyhamilton] (October 8, 2017). "More than thankful to share our joyous news!!! #babyinthere #babyonboard✨🎉❤️" (Tweet). Retrieved October 8, 2017 – via Twitter.