STARKVILLE, Miss.--A young Hawaiian who lost her left arm from a violent shark attack but recovered and realized her dream of becoming a professional surfer will speak at Mississippi State early next month.
Bethany Hamilton is this year's guest for the Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship in Values and Ethics being sponsored April 2 by the university's Delta Gamma social sorority. The 7:30 p.m. Humphrey Coliseum program is free and open to all.
Born in 1990 into a family of surfers on the island of Kauai, Hamilton entered her first competition at the age of 8. Five years later, she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off the island's famous North Shore.
Though Hamilton lost an arm and more than 60 percent of her blood, she credited a focus on her faith in God for helping quickly overcome the traumatic ordeal. Amazingly, she returned to the water a month after the attack.
She resumed surfer competition in about three months and, approximately a year following the attack, won the Explorer Women's division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships--her first national title.
Hamilton's story was chronicled in a 2004 autobiography titled "Soul Surfer." In 2011, it was retold in a nationally released movie of the same title featuring AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton. Actors Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood and Dennis Quaid also starred in the Sony Pictures release.
Hamilton, who married at age 23 to Christian youth minister Adam Dirks, continues to share her inspirational story of hope and determination, as well as help with charitable efforts.
Today, her foundation, Friends of Bethany, works to support shark attack survivors and amputees. Complete information on the organization is found at www.friendsofbethany.com.
The Martin lectureship series began in 1992 with businessman Paul Martin's creation of a memorial to his wife at the University of Akron, her alma mater and home to Delta Gamma's oldest active collegiate chapter. It later expanded to other U.S. campuses, including MSU in 2002.
For more on MSU's DG chapter, visit http://deltagamma.org.msstate.edu/.
Information about Mississippi State University is available at www.msstate.edu.