Riding the waves of life

It’s probably not an exaggeration to say most people in America, and many beyond, know the story of Bethany Hamilton.

Born and raised on Kauai, she was surfing at Tunnels Beach in 2003 when she lost her left arm in a shark attack at age 13. It wasn’t long before she courageously returned to surfing and went on to become a professional surfer and today, remains among the world’s top surfers. Her comeback and her faith have been chronicled in several books and a major motion picture, “Soul Surfer.”

Not as well known, but with a story just as compelling as Bethany’s, is her mother, Cheri Hamilton. In her 2011 book, (written with Kauai’s Rick Bundschuh) “Raising a Soul Surfer,” she reveals insight into her life, her marriage to Tom Hamilton, and how they raised a daughter and two sons, Noah and Timothy, on Kauai, with surfing never far away.

I had the pleasure a few years back to meet Cheri Hamilton at Bethany’s and Alana Blanchard’s surfing tourney on the North Shore. We chatted for just a few minutes, but she was friendly, open and talkative. She didn’t treat me like the stranger I was, but like an old friend. It was a relaxing encounter.

Her book, at 202 pages and with plenty of pictures, is much the same way. It’s a nice, easy, engaging read that flows smoothly and takes the reader along with her for a lifetime of adventures.

Cheri Hamilton, as she writes, has a strong faith in Jesus Christ, which is a message she clearly shares as the most important one of her life. She does not beat readers over the head with her beliefs, but she leaves no doubt her faith guides her and she writes of God’s power, grace and blessings.

She recounts plenty of struggles and doubts, just as she shares the family’s love and strength that bonded them together through Bethany’s shark attack and help her overcome such an injury.

She also loved surfing. In her younger days, she would spent six hours a day in the water and not tire. There were lessons to be learned and she shares them.

In the closing chapter, she writes: “Like storms and wipeouts, adversity comes in big waves and small. Learning to take each wave at a time will exercise your inner being to strengthen and develop your resolve to survive — both spiritually and physically.”

“Raising a Soul Surfer” is just as it’s billed, “one family’s epic tale.”


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Glen Folkard August 17, 2018 11:20 am Reply

    Great to see a shark ATTACK story with a Human side for a change. Usually its all about the glorious fish.

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