The Unstoppable Bethany Hamilton

If a shark bit off your arm, would you be happy to jump back in the ocean every morning?

That’s exactly what Bethany Hamilton did. At just 13, after a horrific shark attack, she chose to confront her fear to pursue her passion. If you’ve seen the movie, Soul Surfer, which tells her story, you’ll know a bit about how she turned her trauma into triumph

This year, she released a new documentary, Unstoppable, which shows how she grew from a teenage shark attack survivor to the wife and young mother she is today. As she explained in an interview with Alex, it was important to show people that there was more to her life than the incident she’s famous for.

Bethany has never stopped competing as a professional surfer, and revealed she has a special connection to Australia.  ‘I have been coming here since I was 13 years old,’ she said, ‘and I think my most favourite thing about it is the coffee!’

When Soul Surfer was released 10 years ago, Bethany had no idea the far-reaching impact her story would have. ‘At first I was a bit conscious of being labelled as the shark-attack girl, and it was kind of an odd way to grow up.’

But she said her identity in Christ pulled her through, and helped her understand that her testimony was God’s tool. ‘It’s so easy in the world today to be distracted by things that seem important, but we all have the ability to overcome in God. We are all on a journey to becoming our most beautiful selves, and I just want to encourage everybody to live their best life.’

we all have the ability to overcome in God

Bethany wanted to make her new documentary as real and raw as possible. ‘I would be lying if I said that my life has been easy.  I wanted to show people the ups and downs, not only of my surfing career, but of all aspects of my life.  It’s a chance for people to get to know the real Bethany.’

Making the documentary at this stage of her life was important to Bethany. ‘I wanted to share a bit more of my story this time, and some of the highlights of the last 10 years.  For me it really captures the journey from childhood all the way to motherhood.’

For Bethany, the biggest difference between the movie and the documentary is that there is “no Hollywood”, as she puts it. ‘There are no actors. It’s just me, my husband, and the reality of our family life.  You get to see me experience the fear of motherhood, as well as trying to balance my professional surfing career with the demands of young children.’

The feedback for Unstoppable has been extremely positive, with young girls commenting that they much prefer the documentary form to the actual movie.  A little boy that Bethany surfs with back home in Hawaii responded that he felt ‘fired up to chase his surfing dreams’ after watching it.  This is exactly what Bethany and her family were hoping for.

‘I’m so thankful that God has used my story to inspire others, and I hope that everybody who sees the documentary is encouraged to live their own unstoppable lives!’

Listen to the full interview below.

About the author

Jonathan Craig

MORE GREAT READS FROM

Learning to Rely on God

On 4 June, 2016, 14-year-old Ashley Jones was riding shotgun in an all-terrain vehicle, in the mountains of Colorado. The ground was muddy from the previous night’s rain, so when the ATV took a turn too fast, the wheels lost traction, and the vehicle flipped over onto its right side. As she fell, Ashley instinctively…

Bring What you Have, and Let Him Multiply

You’d think the chance to audition for one of the biggest Christian bands in the world would be super exciting. But when 17-year-old Jen Ledger got the chance to play with Skillet, she just felt terrified. ‘I honestly couldn’t think of anything worse,’ she told Alex when they caught up recently. ‘It was so intimidating…

God’s Patience in One Man’s Life

Part of having faith is knowing that God has a plan for each of us. But we also know that sometimes we can’t know how that plan will play out. Sometimes God plays the long game. When Tim Bisagno was ten years old, a visitor said that if, later in life, he was struggling, he…

How a Gideons Bible Changed Anna McGahan’s Life

Through starring roles in Underbelly, House Husbands,  the Doctor Blake Mysteries and Picnic at Hanging Rock, Anna McGahan became a familiar face on Australian TV. But with the rise of her fame, her self-esteem was crashing. She’d come into acting pure-hearted and trusting, but by age 23, she’d realised her industry treated her as a…

God of Always

Can you think of one word to accurately describe this year so far? ‘Crazy’ doesn’t come close! As much as there have been some dark moments, we’ve also been touched by some awesome messages from people all around Australia, listening to the radio, connected and united by awesome tunes. This is the story of one…

Building the Kingdom, Brick by Brick

When Alex’s brother got Lego sets for Christmas, he’d always end up asking his big sister for help. ‘It would take me like months to build a little truck!’ she admitted. But on Nine’s Lego Masters, you had less than twelve hours to build some of the most elaborate creations ever assembled. You might think…

Under Pressure

Only a couple of years ago, at just 15, Coby James started writing songs every day. He’d played guitar all his life, but this creative growth spurt was different. ‘I think a girl broke my heart or something,’ he said, ‘and I just wanted to find a way to express it.’ ‘They were just like…

The Unstoppable Bethany Hamilton

If a shark bit off your arm, would you be happy to jump back in the ocean every morning? That’s exactly what Bethany Hamilton did. At just 13, after a horrific shark attack, she chose to confront her fear to pursue her passion. If you’ve seen the movie, Soul Surfer, which tells her story, you’ll…

Christ’s Royal Blood Can Wash Away Fear

Is it just us, or does March 2020 feel like it happened millions of years ago? If you can think back that far, you’ll remember that, for a little while, the world was in a state of limbo, as we tried to work out what we would have to sacrifice to beat COVID-19. When new…

Trusting in Better Hands

The fire was bearing down on her hometown of Cobargo, but Rachel was less worried for herself than for her boyfriend. She knew his family’s property was in even more danger, and she thought the blaze would get to them before her. But when she spoke to him that morning, he told her they were…

Recent Articles

Jots and Tittles: Beth

Bethlehem, Bethany, Bethel, Bethesda, Bethsaida, Bethphage and Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan—so many places in Scripture start with ‘beth’.

Call On His Name

2020 was rough year for most people, but particularly for those in arts and music. For Elle Limebear, who was on tour in America at the time, it was even more challenging to try and get home to the UK. ‘We all had to pivot and adapt. Everything got cancelled, and it just very chaotic….

Every Step of the Way

Singer, songwriter Cade Thompson joined Mel on Vision180 to chat about the challenges he faced recording his new album in the middle of the pandemic.

Faith, Fear, and Australia: 3 Lessons I Learned As I Stepped Out

I’ll never forget the day I stepped onto the airplane at the Atlanta airport. This wasn’t just any plane or a normal trip. I was going to Australia. I was terrified, I was excited, and I was questioning my decision all at the same time. I thought I had lost my mind. About a year…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.