Bethany Hamilton of Hawaii has learned to shake off heart-stopping tragedy.
Years ago as a young teenager, she gained national attention when she tragically lost an arm to a 14-foot tiger shark while she was surfing in Kauai, Hawaii. The shark bit off her left arm just below the shoulder in the attack.
Her story of difficulty — followed by her determination to get back in the water right after she healed from the medical emergency — buoyed the millions of people who learned of her story through her 2004 book, “Soul Surfer,” and the 2011 film adaptation of it by the same name.
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But that was only the beginning of her path toward accomplishment.
Today, the wife and mother of three has released a new children’s book, “Surfing Past Fear” (Brave Books, Oct. 2022), as she continues to participate in surfing and lead an active life.
“I’m a mother of three boys now — so naturally we’re working through overcoming some of our fears and challenges,” she told Fox News Digital in a new interview just as her book was published.
“And there’s also been a lot going on in the world, of course — so this is about helping children to overcome their fears, and it’s a passion of mine, to remind them that they can overcome challenges in their life.”
Even as she delivers an important message, Hamilton noted that her book is “fun and lighthearted” — and was “such a fun project to work on,” she said.
“It has a sweet message, and it’s not just for children but for parents, too.”
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“We as parents don’t always have the right words to say or don’t always know how to approach different situations,” she noted.
This book, she believes, is “an amazing tool to help parents” in that effort.
She said the book “came together pretty quickly” and that she feels fortunate to have partnered with Brave Books on it, a conservative children’s book publisher whose books are aimed mostly at kids ages 4 through 12.
“My husband helped a lot, too,” she said, referring to Adam Dirks, whom she married in 2013, “though he doesn’t always get the credit,” she added.
Hamilton returned to the importance of helping children overcome whatever challenges they may have.
“My life definitely focuses a lot on overcoming challenges and facing fears,” she said, “so it just felt really fitting for me to put my emphasis there.”
Her own family, she noted, participates in the Brave book of the month program.
“My boys take part” in it, she said, “so each month they get their book, plus a sticker and a flag.”
In the children’s playroom, she said, the boys are able to keep track of their reading accomplishments.
“It’s a really interactive experience,” she said, and her own book includes games and activities, “plus a love note from me,” she added, “to encourage the family to overcome their fears.”
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In terms of the target audience for her book, “my 4-year-old really likes it, so does my 7-year-old, and I’d say it appeals to kids” older than that as well, she said.
She also expects to do another book in the future, she said.
When looking back at her past and what she endured, she said that “naturally people always want to know about the drama — that really resonates,” she said.
She said it’s exciting, though, to be able to encourage and inspire the next generation to “get back out there” and face the things they may fear, rather than dwell on all the things that can go wrong or worry about the “worst-case ‘what ifs.’”
“Overall,” said Hamilton, “I’m honored to share this encouraging message and just be a part of other people’s journeys to overcome their fears.”