Bethany Hamilton: pro surfer and an inspiration to millions of people worldwide | Photo: bethanyhamilton.com

Hawaiian surfer hero Bethany Hamilton has been named the Waterman of the Year 2017.

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) decided to honor pro surfer Bethany Hamilton with the prestigious award for her inspirational work in the surfing community.

Despite losing her left arm in a shark attack in 2003, the young and talented athlete didn't stop surfing, competing and participating in motivational conferences and events.

Hamilton wrote several books, and her life story was revealed in several movies, including "Soul Surfer." Her dedication to surfing and to overcoming fears and challenges touches millions of people worldwide.

"There are so many words that come to mind when you think of Bethany Hamilton - grit, determination, faith, and inspiration are just a few," stresses Kelly Gibson, president of SIMA.

Bethany Hamilton was on February 8, 1990, in Lihue, Kauai. She is married to Adam Kirks, and has a son named Tobias. Hamilton won surfing contests, and finished runner-up at the 2008 ASP World Junior Championships.

"And while those words are all fitting, Bethany is so much more than that to the surf industry because there are very few who epitomize what it means to be a surfer like she does. Bethany continues to be a role model for surfers everywhere, and we are excited to honor her as this year's Waterman of the Year."

The official working trade association of more than 300 surf industry suppliers will also honor Cyrill Gutsch (Parley For The Oceans) as Environmentalist of the Year, and Herbie Fletcher (Astrodeck) with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

SIMA will present the Special Recognition Award to the International Surfing Association (ISA) for making the Olympic dream a reality.

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