Last Friday I had the awesome opportunity to sit and chat with world-champion surfer Bethany Hamilton about life, braces and her favorite foods. You may remember reading the news about Bethany (now about to turn 22): a shark took off her left arm when she was 13 years old. Her incredible recovery story (she went back into the water less than four weeks later!!) has been written up in the autobiographical book, Soul Surfer – A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (an amazing read), and turned into last year’s movie of the same name (featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt). I love how her family and faith kept her going and moving ahead (I got to meet her cool Mom Cheri, too, who wrote Raising a Soul Surfer – One Family’s Epic Tale). When you find out what Bethany has gone through to become a world-champion surfer, you won’t be surprised to learn her slogan is “Smiling Through Adversity” – wow.
She is so easy-going to talk to! I met her at the Damon Forum, a yearly gathering of orthodontists and staff sponsored by Ormco, the producers of the Damon System of orthodontic treatment plus thousands of other products relevant to this field. Bethany is now their spokesperson, as she had her smile enhanced with the Damon System whose constant, low-force design allowed her to spread appointments to every three months. The latter was a great benefit since she lives in Hawaii and her orthodontist lives in California!
Bethany is so laid back and positive about life. When asked how she feels about having had braces, she said, “I was always a pretty smiley girl, but after I got braces it definitely improved my confidence. I feel more beautiful, having a good smile.”
She added, “A lot of kids aren’t blessed with getting braces. I’m thankful to have had that opportunity.” Her advice to teens getting braces is to not be nervous about their looks, be diligent (with cleaning), and listen to your doctor (!). She says, “Before you know, you’ll be done.”
Her favorite thing to eat while in braces: smoothies – all types of fruit smoothies but especially ones made with mangoes. Her cute confession: “I was naughty and sometimes ate an apple!”