Bethany has shown extraordinary grace in her recovery, telling family and friends that she plans to keep a positive attitude and, remarkably, that she plans to get back on her board and surf as soon as her arm heals.
The combination of her uncommon grace under pressure and Holt Blanchard's quick actions probably saved Bethany's life.
In an extraordinary coincidence, Bethany was rushed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where her father, Tom Hamilton, was about to have routine knee surgery. When doctors told him his surgery would have to be delayed because there was a badly injured surfer en route, Hamilton feared the worst, knowing his daughter was out surfing.
Dr. David Rovinsky recalls telling Tom Hamilton the news. "I was crying, because I knew it was Bethany. I knew how it would affect Tom, and it's the hardest news you can share with another parent."
"I just prayed to God that she'd survive," Hamilton said. "They had to roll me out of the upcoming surgery room and she replaced me in the same operating room."
Holt Blanchard told Bethany's mom of her daughter's injury. When she learned Bethany had lost her arm, Cheri Hamilton said, "I just lost it. I fell apart. I had to pull off the road."
Bethany, it seems, is the one who's buoying her family's spirits. Within days, she started taking the first steps toward her recovery. She's already begun learning to do things with one hand, and adjusting to the physical and emotional effects of the attack.
"Well, I think that I should just have a positive attitude toward things and the challenges coming up and if I have a bad attitude, then it's not really gonna make it anything better," she said.
Hundreds of well-wishers are sending her cards and logging on to her Web site, www.bethanyhamilton.com, to offer their support.
Bethany told Cuomo she doesn't feel compelled to show people she can bounce back from the attack and get back in the water. She said she plans to do it for herself. "If I don't get back on my board, I'll be in a bad mood forever," she said.
For the moment, Bethany is grateful. "I think we're all very thankful that I'm still here and that Holt was there and I think that this will definitely bring our two families closer together and it already has," she said. "But I think that we'll definitely have a thankful Thanksgiving."