Family and faith inspire brave surfer

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 29/04/2014
Bethany Hamilton
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ
READY FOR WAVES: Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton was practising at Fitzroy Beach ahead of the Port Taranaki Pro-ASP women’s six-star qualifying series. Hamilton lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003.

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Bethany Hamilton's triumphant return to surfing after a shark ripped off her arm inspires Hanna Moore every day.

Hanna, 13, of New Plymouth, has cerebral palsy and has to use crutches to get around.

Her idol is Hawaiian surfer Hamilton, who is in New Plymouth this week to compete in the New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival.

Last night hundreds of budding young surfers sat and listened to Hamilton talk about the film Soul Surfer, which was written about her life.

Sitting right up the front of the bustling crowd was Hanna and her 10-year-old sister Esther.

"It was just so amazing to see her," Hanna said.

"She's my main inspiration in life. She makes me feel like anything is possible.

"I must have seen her movie like 100 times.

"She teaches people to face your fears and I can really relate to that," she said.

Hamilton is a professional surfer who in 2003 at the age of 13 had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark.

She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board and in April 2011 the feature film Soul Surfer was released.

Last night Hamilton talked about how it was her family and her faith in God that got her through the ordeal and helped her to get back into professional surfing.

The 24-year-old said she had always wanted to come to New Zealand and had enjoyed it so far.

"I've been here since the 23rd and I've been here with my husband Adam," she said.

The pair had been surfing in Raglan before hitting the waves at Fitzroy Beach yesterday afternoon. "It was a little rough, it was challenging."

"It's cold here," she said.

Hamilton urged parents of budding young surfers to encourage their child's passion for the sport, and said she was looking forward to the festival.

"You guys do have some amazing female surfers. I've been surfing against Paige [Hareb] for a while now," she said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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