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‘Soul Surfer': The story of a true hero

Apr 19th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | 0

Every once in a while, Hollywood produces a gem of a movie.

It happened a couple of years ago when Sandra Bullock starred in and won an Oscar for her performance in “The Blind Side,” and now another great family movie, called “Soul Surfer,” has come to theaters. Both movies are based on true and inspiring stories, and there is something so appealing about watching everyday people overcome tremendous odds, whether physical or circumstantial.

“Soul Surfer” is a movie based on the 2004 biography “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.” The book and film are based on the real-life experiences of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm as a result of a shark attack in Hawaii when she was 13 years old. The movie stars Anna-Sophia Robb as Bethany with Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt as her mom and Dennis Quaid as her dad.

Bethany grew up in a family that was immersed in surfing, and she developed a love for it at a young age. She has two older brothers who tease her, as would be expected, but they are also quite encouraging of her surfing.

It’s remarkable that this teenager even survived the shark attack after losing 60 percent of her blood. The poise she showed right after the attack was a sign of things to come.

In her feature-film debut, country singer superstar Carrie Underwood plays a Christian church youth leader and actually does a great job. The relationship between Bethany, who was raised in a family where she was taught to have faith in God, and her youth leader becomes increasingly important in her recovery.

Losing her arm in such a sudden and violent way turned Bethany’s life upside down. Her passion for surfing clashed with the physical reality of her situation. She was such a fierce competitor, and she faced an unknown future: Would she be able to surf again and at the competitive level she once did?

Wondering why something so horrible happened to such a wonderful young woman is human nature. How that question is answered and where it leads Bethany is the most moving part of the whole story. Trials in life often come with unexpected consequences, and the fact that she became an inspiration to millions is really the icing on the cake.

“Soul Surfer” is a family friendly, faith-inspiring movie. Too often we complain about the kinds of movies Hollywood makes; however, this time it got it right. The world needs positive, uplifting and inspiring stories like Bethany’s.


Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

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