Bethany Hamilton: Riding the Waves

August 3 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Overcoming Your Fears

When you fall off a horse, they say to get back on it. When I fell of a horse during college, my gruff female instructor must’ve seen the fear in my eyes. She gave me a slight frown (Actually, that was just pretty much her expression all the time.), and her silence convinced me that I’d better get back on that horse. So, I did.

It’s easy to be afraid of something when you fail or when you get hurt. It’s easy to run away from it all. But powering through and getting into that saddle again will make all the hard stuff in the future seem a little more doable.


Experts from the University of Southern California studied TV news media during the past 25 years and found that women’s sports just aren’t talked about.

For instance, in 2014, ESPN’s SportsCenter spent 2 percent of its time covering women’s sports. It’s been that way since 1999. When women’s sports are covered, 81.6 percent of coverage is focused on women’s basketball. Not softball or swimming or surfing or soccer. Makes you want to throw a ball at the TV, right?

WOMAN TO WATCH: Bethany Hamilton, Professional Surfer

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Bethany Hamilton is a testament to that. The New York Times said she might be the world’s most famous surfer. Chances are you’ve heard of her, despite your breadth of knowledge of this splashy sport.

In 2003, at the age of only 13, Bethany was surfing with friends when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark. She lost her entire left arm and nearly 60 percent of her blood. The world was shocked to discover that not only did she survive, but she was also surfing only a month later.

Many doubted her ability to surf following the attack. Things like paddling on the board to catch a wave and balancing on the board seemed like tremendous obstacles. However, Bethany remained focused and resilient. She figured out how to make surfing work for her, and kept ranking high in distinguished surfing contests. This summer, she beat the best female surfer out of the competition in the World Surf League Fiji Women’s Pro, landing herself in the semifinals.

In 2006, Bethany published an autobiography called Soul Surfer, which focused on two things that helped her brave the waters again: her family and her faith. She quickly became a New York Times best-selling author. Next came the documentary and a feature film by the same name.

In 2007, some of her family and friends started her nonprofit foundation, called Friends of Bethany, which reaches out to amputees and youth, offering hope to overcome life’s obstacles through faith.

Bethany and her husband, Adam, placed third on the 25th season of CBS show The Amazing Race and recently had their first child, a boy named Tobias. Her latest project is a documentary backed by Kickstarter called Surfs Like a Girl, to be released next year. It reveals Bethany’s obstacles and triumphs in creating a successful career, as well as her return to surfing after giving birth.

This surfer is more than a survivor; she’s an inspiration to women everywhere that no matter what happens, the best might still be yet to come.


Bethany Hamilton is proof that not giving up can garner you great achievements. As racecar driver Danica Patrick said:

“Take those chances and you can achieve greatness, whereas if you go conservative, you’ll never know. I truly believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Even if you fail, learning and moving on is sometimes the best thing.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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