My hero is amazing. Even though I do not know her, she is awesome. Her name is Bethany Hamilton, and if you haven’t heard of her, then do I have a story for you.
On Halloween of 2003, Bethany went surfing in Hawaii with her good friend Alana, Alana’s dad, and brother. Bethany was so good at surfing that she was ranked eighth in the world of amateur surfing. She was relaxing, her arm dangling in the water, when there was a flash of gray and she realized that her arm hurt. Then, a gentle tug, and the water around her turned dark with her blood. She looked down in shock and called to her friend, “Alana? I just got attacked by a shark.”
A 14-foot tiger shark, to be exact. Alana started to freak out and her dad rushed over with a surf leash. He wrapped it around the four inches of arm Bethany still had left. To add insult to injury, the tiger shark bit off a big chunk of her board, so Alana’s brother towed her in to land. At the hospital, Bethany lost so much blood that she went into shock and nearly died. The doctors stitched up the stub of her arm but her hopes of becoming a pro surfer had been torn to shreds.
After a while, Bethany was allowed to try surfing again, but she could barely stand because her weight was so thrown off and her support limited. After many, many tries, she finally stayed on her board and caught a wave. It was small, but it gave her hope. Day after day, she practiced until she was as good as before the attack. She is competing again, and not just in tournaments for handicapped surfers.
Bethany has been the center of attention as her grace, composure, and positive spirit continue to astound her family, friends, and doctors. Most people would feel sorry for themselves after such an attack, or at the very least would never go in the water again, but Bethany chose otherwise. She is very religious and says God let her live. When she heard of another attack victim who was suffering from depression, she called to talk to him. When they finally ended their conversation, both hung up feeling better. If that is not heroic, I do not know what is.
So I have told you about my hero. She is the kind of person I want to be. She thanks God every day for being alive after such a close encounter. Thanks, Bethany. I wish you the best. I know you can handle whatever comes your way.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.