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"Unstoppable" Bethany Hamilton and Director Aaron Lieber

A majority of young female surfers and their parents, filled the theater for HIFF's Premiere screening of 'Unstoppable" and a chance to hear from their heroine first hand. Bethany Hamilton, is one of my heroes! She's humble and determined. She's had many challenges, simultaneously, and never stopped trying. She is "Unstoppable" and she teaches every girl the secret behind her strength. Here are some memorable questions the audience got to ask.

Most memorable Q & A from the audience with Bethany. Here's what she had to say...

Q: After watching the film "Unstoppable" and seeing the freedom you had as a child, running through nature, surfing waves at the beach, you seemed to have so much Freedom! Today, students seem overworked and pressured to achieve. What would you say about the demands of education? Or, what do you think?

A: Oh definitely. Yes! I would say, Go out. Get in Nature! That's where you really learn about life. You learn about yourself. Your strengths, your weaknesses. You try harder. Push forward. Keep focused on your goals! Don't listen to the negative things people could say. Don't give up! For me, I give God praise! God, is a big part of my life! I would say, get out more often. Get into Nature. As a mother, my life has changed. (Her husband interjects... As parents, we get to take our kids out with us. Be together as a family. Show them our lifestyle.) Bethany nods and adds: We make time to experience life... Nature. Parents have to teach their kids that!

Q: Where did you get the analogy of a Rose?

A: Well, Roses are beautiful. They have petals. Even if they lose a petal, it still smells sweet, it still looks beautiful. It's still a Rose. I encourage girls to think this way because that's how God sees us. I lost my arm when I was a teenager. I was going through puberty, breaking out with pimples. It was an awkward time. And then, having new challenges to deal with. The whole thing was awkward. Just, when you become a teenager, you become concerned about the way you look. You want to fit in, feel accepted. So, a few years ago, I started a Retreat for amputees. It's a "Beautifully Flawed Retreat." I meet a lot of girls struggling with challenges in life. They may be missing a limb or shaped differently or even dealing with some deep personal struggle. So, I show them a Rose. I want all girls to know that, there is a God who loves them and sees them as Beautiful, just the way they are.

Q: You do so much! How do you plan your schedule?

A: Well, my life can get pretty demanding, especially now that I have my second son, who didn't make the cut of the movie. (she giggles) FOCUS on things that are important to you! Instead of trying to do everything, do what you LOVE best. When you make time for God, you begin to see what matters most. The rest are just things that would keep you busy.

Bethany is a woman of action and faith. Lovable and approachable, she posed for photos. I was fortunate to get one.

Meanwhile, Director Aaron Lieber, was waiting in the foyer at Dole Regal Theaters near the Red Carpet. Effervescently, he began to offer me 'momi' (treasured words of wisdom)... "So, you're a filmmaker? I started by making 1 minute shorts. I made thousands of them! I just kept filming, making those 1 minute shorts. Shoot everything that you can shoot! Film, as often as you can! 1 minute shorts! That's how it started." He nods and grins, as though he released the greatest secret for filmmakers! He continues, "I've been making surf movies for a decade. Then 'Nike' picked me up. They hired me to do a series of commercials. With that, I got to meet a lot of athletes! Things just started happening. From those surfers... (he started dropping names which led to)... I met Bethany. There was an idea to make a 6 minute short!," he smiles, "Five years later, it's 99 minutes!" Suddenly, he was overtaken by a mass of fans wanting photos.

Although Bethany's pregnancy came as a surprise during the filming process, it completes her role as being an unstoppable source of inspiration for all mankind. You never know who you'll meet and how they will inspire you. Keep focus on your goal and be open to possibilities that come your way.

About Phoenix Maimiti Valentine

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