Shark Week might've left you terrified of the ocean, so we've got a story to inspire you to get back in the water. 21-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack eight years ago and had the courage to return to professional surfing. Her story has gained her international attention (it's the subject of the movie Soul Surfer), and Bethany uses her fame to help others through her foundation and her volunteer work. In fact, she's so into helping others that she's been nominated in the Do Something Athlete category of this year's Do Something Awards. The show is airing this Thursday on Vh1, so Celebs Gone Good sat down with Bethany just in time for an exclusive Q&A about her life challenges, her travels abroad, and her biggest celebrity crush!
DoSomething.org: At 13-years-old, you lost your left arm after being attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark. What was going through your mind while you were sitting in that hospital trying to recover?
Bethany Hamilton: I was thankful to be alive, wondering how life would change—would I be able to surf or not? But also just realizing and having faith that if God allowed this to happen, that He could make something good come from it.
DS: What inspired you to get back to surfing afterwards? Were you scared?
BH: I was afraid of not being able to surf again! I knew that if I couldn’t surf, life would REALLY change. My whole life revolved around the ocean, and I really didn’t want to lose that too. So I guess what inspired me to get back to surfing was just my love and passion for the sport and the lifestyle!
DS: What advice would you give young people who were facing a hardship due to injury or conditions that they were born with?
Life can be beautiful for each of us if we look for that beauty. Life is also different for each of us; and we need to realize that. I think that it’s important to find the beauty in yourself and the people around you, and to be thankful for what you do have!
DS: Your story has gone Hollywood! What was it like seeing your life story displayed in the movie Soul Surfer?
BH: Seeing my life as a Hollywood movie is insanely cool and a little weird at the same time! I’m happy with how Soul Surfer turned out, and with AnnaSophia’s portrayal of me. The best thing is seeing that it’s really helping a lot of people all over the world.
DS: What are some charitable things you've been able to do with your fame?
BH: I’ve gone to Thailand, Indonesia, and Fiji and been a part of some humanitarian projects. [My] foundation Friends of Bethany has been a great venue to making these things happen. We are developing a TV show that will involve humanitarian projects around the globe!
DS: When you've been involved in charity, can you recall a really inspiring person or experience you'd had?
BH: I’ve done a few things with Make a Wish, and recently met a young girl, Kendall, who has been battling leukemia. She was so cute & even though she was afraid of the water, she conquered those fears and learned to surf!
DS: You've been nominated in the athlete category of our Do Something Awards on Vh1! Congratulations! How do you feel about it?
BH:Thank you! It an honor to be nominated for this award, especially knowing that there are so many people who are “Doing Something” and making an impact in huge ways. I feel very humbled and hope that what I’ve done and am doing inspires others to do something too!
DS: Biggest celebrity crush. Go.
BH: - Robert Pattinson; Blake Griffin (haha!)