When pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton was 13 years old in 2003, she went surfing in Hawaii with friends and family. It was there that one of the worst things that can happen to a surfer, happened to Bethany. A 14-foot-long tiger shark attacked her, and severed her arm just below the shoulder.
And while she could have easily turned to a life of drugs and alcohol to cope, she lives a clean and sober life. As such, Bethany’s latest film “Unstoppable,” will screen Sunday, July 14, with proceeds going to Natural High, an organization that aims to inspire young people to turn to what gives them a natural high rather than a drug-or-alcohol high.
“Bethany is an overcomer,” La Jolla resident and Natural High founder Jon Sundt told La Jolla Light. “A lot of people turn to drugs to escape pain and trouble. They think it will solve their problems. Bethany had one of the greatest struggles you could face and she could have easily gone south, but she chose this path instead.”
Bethany’s life has already been made into a feature film, “Soul Surfer” (based on her 2004 book of the same name) in 2011. Her latest picks up where Soul Surfer leaves off. Now ranking as one of the leading professional surfers, “Unstoppable” follows her climb to surfing success.
“She is an incredible human being and an inspiration. She accomplished feats in surfing people would be amazed by,” Sundt said. “And the movie is incredible, it’s like a docu-drama. There are so many good messages for people.”
A private screening of “Unstoppable” will be held 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14 at AMC Fashion Valley 18 in San Diego, 7037 Friars Road. General admission is $50, and includes a question-and-answer session; but those who purchase $200 VIP tickets can also participate in a meet-and-greet afterward at Sun Diego Boardshop Fashion Valley, 7007 Friars Road.
Natural High’s mission is to tell real stories of those that pursue their natural highs and avoid drugs and alcohol.
“We’re not just telling kids ‘don’t do it,’ we are telling stories that young people can relate to,” Sundt said. “We use storytellers to change the minds and hearts of kids about drug and alcohol use prevention. There is a lot of research that shows if you can ignite children from the inside out and turn them on to a passion, you lower the risk of drug and alcohol abuse. So finding your natural high is a way to avoid telling kids not to do something, but giving them another choice.”
Sundt said he launched Natural High after losing two of his younger brothers to drugs and alcohol.
“When that happened, it changed everything,” he said. “I thought about what it was that caused them to go down that path. They thought it was cool. They had people they looked up to, and cultural references they looked up to, that put out bad messages. So I thought, let’s influence kids through role models and social influencers instead. I knew people with amazing stories, and I wanted to get their stories out.” In over 25,000 schools, so they can go to school and share the stories and change the social norm.”
— For tickets to the “Unstoppable” screening, visit naturalhigh.org