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Authors: Cheri Hamilton,Rick Bundschuh

Raising A Soul Surfer

BOOK: Raising A Soul Surfer
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Bethany Hamilton’s story of a shark attack while surfing in Hawaii is nothing short of inspiring. The family “story behind the story” may be even more compelling. I loved reading about the Hamilton’s life before, during and after the shark attack and how they turned a tragedy into a triumph.

Jim Burns, PhD

President, HomeWord
Author of
10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family
Faith Conversations for Families

If you are a mother, you
read this book. Cheri reminds us that our children really belong to God. It is He who lets them breathe, He who knows how many hairs are on their heads, and He who is with them always . . . even when they are in the mouth of a shark.

Shelene Bryan

Founder of, Producer of
Like Dandelion Dust

Raising a Soul Surfer
is an amazing story of how God shows us, even through adversity, that there is triumph. There is hope to those who seek Him, and His love endures forever! As parents, we all have hopes and dreams for our children, yet as big as our plans are for them, they are so much smaller than God’s! Through what could have been a devastating tragedy, the Hamilton family has shown that all things do work together for good to those that love Him (see Romans 8:28).

Barbara Cameron

Author of
A Full House of Growing Pains

This engaging autobiography chronicles the story of an unusual family of surfers that resulted in the phenomenon of Bethany Hamilton. Anyone interested in Bethany’s story, surfing or Hawaii in general will enjoy this lighthearted but truthful account of the lives of Tom and Cheri Hamilton, a couple of serious surfers who fell in love in Kauai, lived in a van, and raised their kids surfing from the time they were tadpoles. The drive and dedication the Hamiltons bring to their faith and surfing are showcased in this inspiring story in readable prose that will bring both chuckles and tears.

Toby Neal, LCSW

Therapist, Parent and Author

Spending time with Cheri Hamilton and the whole Hamilton clan during script development, pre-production, filming and beyond gave me a unique perspective on the family. Seeing their love for God and the love of God pouring out of them kept us focused on the true reason for producing the film
Soul Surfer
. Having the opportunity to have Cheri capture even more of the story in
Raising a Soul Surfer
helps fill in all the blanks that are left unfilled by a two-hour movie.

Rich Peluso

Vice President, AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment

I have been truly honored to know Bethany Hamilton, riding with her and sharing platforms where we witness people’s hearts being deeply moved by her inspirational story and her faith in God. As a child going and growing through difficulties of having no limbs since birth, I understand the importance of a mother’s role in one’s life through storms that seem too big at times. Cheri Hamilton’s testimony will touch and challenge anyone’s perspective of life. Furthermore, her love for Bethany, her family and, above all, God will ignite a flame of faith and encouragement to all who read it.

Nick Vujicic

Founder, Life Without Limbs


Published by Regal
From Gospel Light
Ventura, California, U.S.A.
Printed in the U.S.A.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the following:
Scripture taken from the
New American Standard Bible
, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked
are taken from the
Holy Bible, New Living Translation
, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the
Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version
. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society
. Used by permission of International Bible Society
. All rights requested worldwide.

© 2011 Cheri Hamilton. All rights reserved. Published in association with the literary agency of Working Title Agency, Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Cover photograph of Bethany by Noah Hamilton of Noah Hamilton Photography (
). Cover photograph of the Hamilton family by Mike Coots of Mike Coots Photography (

All photographs © the Hamilton family archive and Noah Hamilton Photography, except photo #9 (Hamilton family photo) © Steve Gnazzo of Kilohana Photography and photo #20 (Timmy bodyboarding) © Shea Sevilla. Used with permssion.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hamilton, Cheri.
Raising a soul surfer : one family’s epic tale / Cheri Hamilton with Rick Bundschuh.
p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-8307-5969-9 (hard cover)
1. Hamilton, Bethany—Family.
2. Surfing—Wounds and injuries—Hawaii—Kauai—Biography.
3. Shark attacks—Hawaii—Kauai—Biography.
4. Amputees—Rehabilitation—Biography.
5. Christian biography—United States. I. Bundschuh, Rick, 1951- II. Title.
III. Title: One family’s epic tale.
GV838.H36H37 2011

Rights for publishing this book outside the U.S.A. or in non-English languages are administered by Gospel Light Worldwide, an international not-for-profit ministry. For additional information, please visit
email [email protected]
, or write to Gospel Light Worldwide, 1957 Eastman Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003, U.S.A.

To order copies of this book and other Regal products in bulk quantities,
please contact us at 1-800-446-7735.




1. Hollywood Comes to Paradise

2. Jersey Boy

3. Ticket to ’Nam

4. Destiny

5. Hawaii Bound

6. Captured by Christ

7. Raising Christian Kids on Kauai

8. Hopes, Dreams and Hurricanes

9. In the Shadow of Death

10. The Shark with a Ragged Fin

11. Fearless Passion

12. A Surfer Girl Who Loves God

13. Keeping It Real

Epilogue: Surfing His Waves


“Don’t look down
Bethany called out to me as we were surfing a reef break named “Freddy’s” on the North Shore of Oahu. I kept eyeing the shadows and coral heads beneath the surface of the crystal-blue water, secretly convinced I had seen a shark. Bethany, in her chill, all-knowing manner, knew exactly what was in my mind and encouraged me to set aside my fears.

If you are that worried about sharks, don’t surf. Fear can ruin a good time, and anticipating the unknown is futile. Ever since a shark attacked Bethany, she focuses on what she can control instead of what she can’t see. In fact, “Don’t Look Down” seems to be an unspoken motto for the entire Hamilton family. This expression is not a suggestion that they ignore their fears; rather, it is a statement of courage that motivates them to embrace life’s challenges. Instead of worrying about what
happen, the Hamiltons trust in the Lord and don’t blink an eye to transitory disturbances. They continue to look up toward the Lord, hoping and praying for good instead of mulling over their fears.

This unique family lives a beautifully rough island life, “following their bliss” and not fretting over what is around the next turn. Rather than analyzing and contemplating their next move, they taste life and experience it. This attitude represents an island mentality of living life to the fullest and simply enjoying the gifts God provides: the ocean, family and friends.

The Hamiltons and the island on which they live (Kauai) are all about community. But it’s a kind of community that cannot
be replicated. The ocean spiritually bonds people on Kauai. The desire and love for the ocean is in the heart of every Hamilton and seems to carry them from day to day, giving physically satisfying meaning to their lives.

During the past year, I’ve had time to get to know each member, and at this point they feel like extended family. I have found that although each of the Hamiltons has a love for the ocean, the similarities stop there. Tom (Dad) reminds me of a soft-spoken giant. He anchors the family, but he has the most kindhearted voice you’ll ever hear. When I was staying at the Hamilton house during this past winter break, I went with Tom on their little boat to watch Bethany surf some big waves. I’ve never seen Tom grin so wide. He literally became so entranced by the enormous sets rolling in and the barrel-rides being caught that the boat almost capsized.

BOOK: Raising A Soul Surfer
12.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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