“Soul Surfer” Represents The Power of Self-Determination and Optimistic Outlooks
By Danielle Faczan
The movie “Soul Surfer” is a true story about Bethany Hamilton, the courageous teen who lost her arm in a shark attack and overcame all odds to become a champion surfer again. She has inspired millions with her story and is proof that something good will always come out of bad events. In an effort to encourage both teens and parents to see this movie, Hey U.G.L.Y. – Unique Gifted Lovable You – the nonprofit organization that empowers teens to be part of the solution to bullying, and SEEIT, their teen movie review board, are endorsing this film for it’s message about overcoming obstacles.
Carrie Underwood, who plays Bethany’s (AnnaSophia Robb) youth counselor, Sarah, said, “The whole world was telling her that she could no longer do the one thing she loved most,” in a recent edition of Parade Magazine. ‘But she didn’t let that stop her from finding a way. She truly overcame the odds.”
“I just liked the fact that through all of it she was really brave,” said SEEIT member, Lindsy Felhauer, a junior at New Praire High School. “She wasn’t freaking out or anything, and wasn’t afraid to get back out in the water.”
At one point in the movie, when Bethany could only see the negative side of her situation, Sarah told her, “I don’t know why terrible things happen to us sometimes, but I have to believe something good is going to come out of this.”
“When you’re in a tough situation, know that it’s going to get better,’ advised Betty Hoeffner, co-founder and president of Hey U.G.L.Y. ‘One of the ways to know is to recall a time you’ve been in a bad place and didn’t think you were going to make it. Yet you did make it through and often something wonderful happens because you did. In the case of Bethany, she began receiving hundreds of letters from people who had lost limbs, thanking her for inspiring them to continue attempting the hobbies they love. Knowing that her suffering was helping so many people helped Bethany see her real purpose in life. ‘
When Bethany was feeling hopeless, Sarah convinced her to go on a charitable mission to Thailand to help the children left homeless from the Tsunami. Being of service to others who were suffering so much devastation helped Bethany to stop obsessing about her situation.
‘Another great way to help you through tough times is to reach out to a friend and be totally open with our feelings and fears. Friends can often help us make it through,” suggested Hoeffner.
Finding someone who can help you make it through is exactly what Bethany did. Aside from her best friend and youth counselor, Bethany had the help and support of her mother Cheri (Helen Hunt), father Tom (Dennis Quaid), and brothers Byron (Jeremy Sumpter) and Noah (Ross Thomas). Not only did Bethany receive emotional support, but her friends and family also helped her get back in the water and surf again.
“Bethany looks at the attack as a blessing because she’s been able to do so much through it,” noted Robb in Parade Magazine. “She could have been a one-week news story, but now she’s inspiring millions.”
One of those inspired is SEEIT’s Felhauer whose favorite scene was when Bethany talked to her dad about getting back into surfing competitions. “She told him one of the most memorable quotes of the movie,” said Felhauer. “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”