It was a beautiful sun-filled day this past Oct. 31. The waves off of Makua Beach in Hawaii were at a lull. Tall, lanky, 13-year- old Bethany Hamilton, a surfing protege about to turn professional, was lazily resting on her surfboard.
In the wink of an eye, a gigantic 14-foot tiger shark broke the surface of the pristine water and bit Bethany. The bite in itself was incredible for it took off the surfer’s entire arm, just below the shoulder, in one quick slice.
The bite also created a 17-inch half-circle in the surf board. I’ve seen pictures of the board. They made me sick to my stomach and they caused chills to run up my spine.
The next incredible thing is Bethany survived the ordeal, thanks to the quick thinking of her best-friend’s father. But the story is not over, not in the least.
The most incredible thing about the entire event is Bethany herself — she is quite a remarkable young lady. The day following the tragedy, Bethany was visiting terminally ill children in the cancer ward of the hospital that was treating her. She is not afraid to share her faith with those who will listen — and read.
Her indomitable spirit cannot be conquered. She is already talking about surfing again, with the aid of a prosthetic. The doctors say it is quite possible for her to do just that except for one thing. Money. Well, the lack of it that is.
The cost of fitting Bethany with an artificial limb and then rehabilitating her is going to be quite costly; far beyond what her parents or insurance company can pay.
Again, the Internet becomes a rescue tool. A means to an end.
A Web site has been built for Bethany by her brothers. It is already receiving almost 10,000 visitors a day. There are news updates, pictures, videos, and message boards at the site.
There is also a request for donations.
If you go to
you can read more about this remarkable young lady and about the effort initiated to help in her rehabilitation.
If you would like to read some of the outstanding news stories about Bethany’s tragedy-to-triumph story, just hop on over to
and type in “bethany hamilton” in the search box. Include the quotation marks.
By the way, Bethany also plans on becoming a professional photographer when she gets older. I have no doubt she will accomplish that goal.
Me, I now feel bad. In the past, I’ve had the audacity to complain about some of my health problems; and I’ve even let them get in the way of accomplishing some of the goals I had set for myself.
Shame on me.
Tom DiFrancesca III is a freelance columnist and a resident of Clovis.
He can be reached at email@example.com or www.trackertom.com