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Expected to die, today he’s inspiring others to truly live.

World-renowned inspirational speaker + national bestselling author John O’Leary wants to help you wake up from accidental living so you can do, be, achieve and impact more through your life.

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  • Every Monday, John shares a quick burst of inspiration to help start your week on fire.
  • Every Thursday, John interviews an amazing guest on their story, successes, failures, lessons, and life to help you uncover tips to apply in yours.

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Aug 22, 2019

Bethany Hamilton was just 13 years old when she became a household name after being attacked by a shark while surfing. She lost her arm and nearly her life, but just one month after the attack, returned to surfing.

Today, 15 years later, Bethany is a professional surfer, contestant on Amazing Race, wife, mother and role model. Her amazing story has been shared in the award-winning biopic Soul Surfer and her new documentary Unstoppable. Today, Bethany shares her inspiring story with us firsthand.

If you ever face a challenge (and we all do, right?) this episode is for you – Bethany will show you how to overcome with faith and gratitude.


  • The up-close and personal documentary Unstoppable was released in July 2019 and covers Bethany’s incredible journey from a girl through becoming a woman, a resilient athlete and mom. Watch the trailer here.
  • Bethany and her husband Adam finished third in season 25 of CBS's reality television show Amazing Race and enjoyed tackling challenges together. 
  • Bethany's mom led her to explore her spirituality + faith. She attributes her positivity and resiliency after her attack to her faith in God.
  • "I know I'm going to surf again." Shortly after attack, a reporter asked Bethany if she'd ever surf again and her confidence + boldness inspired others.
  • As she matures, Bethany is learning to embrace her story and use it to inspire others.
  • Four weeks after the attack, Bethany rode a wave to shore, giving her hope + realization that she'd return to surfing. 
  • Friend of Bethany is a foundation produces events that inspires, shares stories hope, and responds with encouragement to traumatic amputees to give hope in a difficult time. Learn more here.
  • World Vision invited Bethany to Thailand a year and a half after the tsunami to inspire fisherman to return to the ocean, despite their fear.
  • Faith in God, spending time in the ocean, and being a mom + wife keep Bethany grounded and tethered to what matters. 
  • In Unstoppable, Bethany shares her journey and daunting accomplishment of surfing an infamous 65 foot, 30 mph+ wave nicknamed Jaws.
  • John 16:33: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
    • Bethany refers to this verse to provide hope + peace to herself + others when going through a difficult time.
  • Bethany found the emotional aspect of her recovery more difficult than the physical and is thankful for her support system.
  • Bethany's book Body and Soul shares tips for young women to become the best versions of themselves. Get a copy here.

If hearing Bethany's story inspired you to live an unstoppable life, you'll love hearing Live Inspired Podcast guest Amberley Snyder. Amberley shares her struggles during recovering from an accident, her strong family bond, and turning tragedy into triumph. Listen to Amberley ep. 63. You'll also love hearing Live Inspired Podcast guest Chris Norton. Chris' story of sustaining an spinal cord injury and determination throughout his recovery will give you amazing insight to live more inspired today. Listen to Chris on ep. 43.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? The Bible and Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? I've become more of a realist and would love to have even more positivity.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? The surfboards.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? My husband or Jesus.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Be willing to try because you never know what you're able to accomplish.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Keep doing what you’re doing.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Always willing to try, put herself in uncomfortable situations to achieve her accomplishments and received the grace of God to keep going in a direction that she may have never planned herself. We can all live an unstoppable life.


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