It’s no secret Bethany Hamilton is one of the most philanthropically driven athletes you’ll ever meet. From working with SurfAid to being one of the Make A Wish Foundation’s most requested wish granters to her own Friends of Bethany Foundation and more, she’s a busy woman with a very big heart, to say the least. Her story is inspirational without needing much explanation: A teenage girl loses her arm in a shark attack while surfing, then not only returns to surfing but does it so well she becomes one of the sport’s best. She surfs big waves. She shows up at ‘CT events and upsets some of the Tour’s top competitors. And at 27 years old, she’s now been doing all this with one arm as long as she ever did it with two.
Professional accomplishments aside, the things that don’t make as many headlines are probably the simplest and most life-altering, like learning to tie your shoe or comb your hair with one hand, or how a woman’s perception of beauty will forever be changed when she no longer has an arm.
“When you’re faced with the loss of your limb or some other physical difference there becomes, in your mind, a real challenge to what our culture says is beautiful,” Hamilton says. “There has to be a change in your mindset when it comes to beauty, from focusing on physical appearance—which is fleeting — to thinking of the heart and attitude and even something greater.”