LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Hundreds of young boys and girls gazed as professional surfer Bethany Hamilton made a star appearance at the 2014 Macifest.
"I really love surfing very much like her and I want to be her and I want to be like her," said 7-year-old ecstatic fan Avery Cook.
Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm during a shark attack and became the inspiration behind the 2011 film Soul Surfer, shared her story of triumph in front of hundreds at the Sudduth Coliseum at the Lake Charles Civic Center. She says leaving a positive impression on young girls everywhere she goes is her main goal.
"Just being able to be a role model for young girls to me is such an honor," said Hamilton. "I know that nowadays, it's kind of rough finding a good, trustworthy role model and I just try to do my best. Just reminding them that God loves them just as they are and that's how I've been able to get through everything that I've been through."
Mothers waited patiently as hundreds of mother-daughter duos (and father-son duos) waited in line to meet Hamilton for an autograph. Angela Leib of California says being able to watch a young girl like Hamilton overcome adversity is not only admirable but inspiring.
"Just to see her taking her story to another level that young people can see that they can make anything happen for them," said Leib. "It's just so inspirational."
Sonya Cook says her daughter Avery became a fan the minute she say the movie Soul Surfer and says she couldn't think of a better role.
"The fact that she's in Lake Charles, Louisiana speaking to our youth in this community, well I just thank Macifest for that," said Cook.
To learn more about Bethany Hamilton's story, CLICK HERE.