Superstar Surfer Bethany Hamilton Wows the Crowd During Her Ocean City Appearance

first_imgHamilton was joined on stage by her husband, Adam Dirks, and toddler son, Tobias. By Donald WittkowskiLola DeMarco has a white T-shirt that she vows will never, ever be washed.The 10-year-old, fifth-grade student at the Ocean City Intermediate School showed off what has now become her prized possession, an autograph by famed surfer Bethany Hamilton that adorns the bottom of the shirt.“This will be getting framed,” Lola told her mother, Kim DeMarco, to make sure that the shirt and the autograph scribbled in black magic marker will never get near the washing machine.Lola was among hundreds of adoring fans who gave Hamilton the rock star treatment during the surfer’s standing room only promotional appearance Friday night at Coastal Christian Ocean City. A line of admirers stretched down the sidewalk along West Avenue while waiting for the doors to open for the event.Hamilton is proclaimed as the world’s most famous surfer, not only because of her prowess on the waves, but also her inspirational recovery from a shark bite in 2003 that severed her left arm. She was only 13 when a tiger shark attacked her while she was surfing in Kauai, Hawaii. She was back to surfing within a month of the attack.For young girls like Lola DeMarco, Hamilton is more than just a sports idol. The stirring tale of a teenager who survived what could have been a fatal shark attack and went on to become an elite adult surfer with just one arm has resonated with people across the globe.“She’s an inspiration for a lot of surfers around the world and for people in general,” Lola said. “It was so exciting to meet her.”Kim DeMarco noted that her daughter spent much of the week looking forward to seeing Hamilton.“I think it was an honor for her,” she said.Lola was lucky enough to get some one-on-one time with Hamilton during a VIP meet-and-greet session.“She is so adorable,” Hamilton later said of Lola during an interview. “I love being an inspiration in the world to young girls like her and helping them to make decisions that will empower them.”Young girls and their parents filled the audience at Coastal Christian. Sisters Lilli and Stella Kiefer, of Greenwich Township, Cumberland County, sat just a few feet from Hamilton.“I really enjoy watching her surf and enjoy looking at her pictures,” 9-year-old Stella said.“I think it’s amazing seeing her in person, after watching her movie and reading her book,” added 11-year-old Lilli.Hamilton, 26, is in the midst of a promotional and inspirational tour sponsored by the casual footwear maker Cobian, which carries her personal line of sandals.On Friday night, she also gave the audience a sneak peek of her upcoming film, “Surfs Like a Girl.” Her life story already has inspired a book, a documentary and the 2011 Hollywood feature film “Soul Surfer.”Hamilton was greeted with booming cheers and applause when she took the stage to sign autographs and talk about her experiences as a surfer and mother. Her husband, Adam Dirks, and toddler son, Tobias, accompanied her.“I guess motherhood is amazing,” she said. “I’m thankful to be a mom and share parenthood with my husband, who is amazing. We love being parents.”Despite the demands of parenthood, Hamilton remains a high-level competitive surfer. Before her public appearance, she went surfing Friday afternoon off Ocean City’s Seventh Street beach.Hamilton told the audience of her family ties to Ocean City. Her father, Tom Hamilton, who now lives in Hawaii, grew up in Ocean City and she has other relatives who live in the surrounding area, she said.She also spoke of her Christian beliefs and how her faith in God has helped her to cope with the emotional and physical challenges of losing her arm.“God loves me just as I am,” she said. “I’ve lost my arm, but I have normal-life struggles that come my way.”Hamilton has founded a nonprofit organization called “Friends of Bethany” to help shark attack survivors and amputees.Speaking on a deeply personal level to the girls in the audience, Hamilton stressed that they should not be pressured into trying to mold themselves into the unrealistic standards of beauty promoted by the mass media.“I think there’s so much more to beauty than physical attributes,” she said.last_img

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