Meet the Real Soul Surfer
Bethany Hamilton tells the story of her life
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton dreamed of becoming a pro surfer. That dream seemed impossible, however, when she lost an arm in a shark attack on October 31, 2003.
Bethany's friend Alana Blanchard recalled the experience for Scholastic News at the red carpet premiere of the movie this week.
"I was 13 at the time," she said. "It's hard to imagine going through something like that at that age."
Bethany not only returned to surfing one month later, she started competing again! Working extra hard to make up for the loss of her arm, the young surfer won fifth place in the NSSA National Championships that year. Making the ultimate comeback, she later took first place.
Bethany wrote a book about her life called Soul Surfer in 2004. A movie based on the book will be released in theaters nationwide this Friday. Bethany was involved in the film from the very beginning.
"I saw the film before it was even finished," she said. "I got to go into the editing room, and share my opinion of how I thought it should be."
Best of all, she even got to do her own stunts! Most of the surfing scenes in the film after Bethany loses her arm star the surfer herself on the board.
"It was a blast! We got some great waves," Bethany says.
AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Teribithia, Race to Witch Mountain) plays Bethany. Before filming, she trained for six weeks for the role and got to know Bethany well.
"We became great friends," AnnaSophia told this reporter. "I would ask her any question and she would answer it."
AnnaSohpia said she related to Bethany's childhood.
"Our lives are similar because we both started doing something we love immensely when we were really young," she said.
The director of the film, Sean McNamara, used more than just the book as his inspiration for the movie.
"I met with the family and we sat there for weeks deciding what should be in the film," he said. He also watched home videos of Bethany's childhood and surfing.
In the end, Soul Surfer is a movie that has made the real-life soul surfer happy.
"I am very pleased with how the film turned out," Bethany said.
Check out Scholastic News Kid Reporter Miranda Rector's review of the movie Soul Surfer.
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