JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bethany Hamilton, who was attacked by a shark while surfing off Kauai's North Shore in 2003, arrived in Jacksonville on Friday in preparation to take part in this weekend's Never Quit festival in Jacksonville Beach.
Many came out to meet Hamilton as she signed autographs on Jacksonville Beach Friday afternoon.
"I am excited to see Bethany Hamilton because I love surfing," said Jori Follenweider. "She is my hero and she, well she believes in God and I do too. When she got bitten by a shark and she survived, she thought she was never going to do it again but she started surfing again."
Hamilton's story of survival was made famous by her autobiography entitled "Soul Surfer." The book Hamilton wrote later was made into a major motion picture.
"I love being able to share my life story and all that I have been through, and losing my arm to a shark and continuing surfing, making the most of bad situations and in all that, my faith in Christ is what pushes me to carry on," said Hamilton. "Just being able to share my life with others and maybe that can shed some light in their life."
"I am excited to see her because she never gave up when even when she got bit by a shark," said Lauren Wisnosky.
Hamilton will compete in the Never Quit Trident along side para-Olympian Brad Snyder on Sunday. Snyder, a 2012 U.S. Para-Olympian gold medalist, is ranked the No. 1 blind swimmer in the world.
Living with disabilities, both Snyder and Hamilton know the spirit needed to compete in the Never Quit challenge.
"Just the spirit that he had in life of never quitting and working hard, but living positively and that's kind of a little bit of my own life story is just persevering through hard times," said Hamilton. "Everyone has that and I think that it is cool to be able to share your own life story, and push people to keep going and to not give up."
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