A Lot More than Sugar and Spice.
Bethany, from the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is only 14 years old, and until recently was a little known but very talented surfer. Then, on October 31, 2003, a tiger shark bit off her arm while she was surfing near Tunnels Beach. Barely two months later she was back in competition, finishing fifth in her age group in the Open Women's Division of a National Scholastic Surfing Association meet at Banyans.
There are not adequate superlatives to describe the bravery of this young woman, who swam to the beach with her remaining arm while bleeding profusely from a severed stump on her left side.
When asked if she remembers anything about the shark attack, she replies, "Not really, it was a grey blur." She never saw the shark swim up, the incident was over in a couple of seconds and it took another couple of seconds to realize that her arm was missing. Did she scream? "No," she says calmly. Fortunately, she was in the water with her friend Alana and Alana's father. It took them 20 minutes to get Bethany back to the beach.
Some cannot help being ghoulish, and ask about all the blood and the arm bobbing in the water. "Huh?" smiles Bethany, "Why would I see the arm in the water? My arm went straight down the shark's throat." Doctors did tell her afterwards that she is incredibly lucky to be alive, she lost 60% of her blood volume in the attack. It was only when she reached the beach that she fainted.
Regarding surfing with one arm, she says it's "about twice as hard. Everything about it is harder. People have to push me up on to the board. Everything about it is harder." Even with a prosthetic arm, she thinks it is unlikely that she will ever become a world champion as she had once hoped. Does that make her miserable? "No, I'm just glad to be alive and out there."
Courage, determination and guts come in all shapes and sizes. I am thankful there are true heroes for my little girl. We all need heroes.