What does an inspiring surfer know about home improvement?  In the case of Bethany Hamilton, probably not enough to host her own show. 

But she does know something about rebuilding, restoration and overcoming obstacles, and that makes her perfectly suited to make a special appearance on the May 2, 2010 episode of ABC's popular series, Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition.

In 2003, at the age of 13, Bethany was a rising surfing star and was already accomplished and well respected in the surfing world.  But her life changed courses, when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while lying flat on her board off Kauai's North Shore.  Bethany's arm was severed, and her life would never be the same.

After losing 60 percent of her blood, Bethany endured several surgeries without infection and was miraculously back on her surfboard, determining to surf with just one arm—in less than one month's time.  Today, the 19-year-old looks back on what could have ruined her life and credits her faith, her family and her friends for helping her to rise above any challenges she might face as a result of missing a limb.

"I just know that through Jesus Christ I can do all things," she says when considering the source of her strength.  "If we set our minds to what we really want to achieve and overcome, we can."

Her story is chronicled in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer:  A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, and she has also written devotional books for teens, as well as co-authored a fiction series.

As Bethany has learned to balance on her board in her own way of surfing, she has racked up some significant achievements—including first place in the Explorer Women's division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships (her first national title) and a third place finish in the 2008 Roxy Pro Women's Surf Festival (a 6-Star Association of Suring Professionals [ASP] Women's World Qualifying Series [WQS] event).

Waves of Mercy

It is this amazing comeback spirit and her sunny inspiration that she brings to Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition, when she surprises and spends time with a family who have children with physical challenges just like hers.

"They're a really neat and cool family," she says of the Carrs.  "I just sensed that there is just something holding them together as a family, and I found out that they are believers, as am I.  So we really could just relate to each other and encourage each other just to trust in God … because that's really were we get our strength."

Hailing from Mineola, Texas, Mike and Katrina Carr first met while working at a summer camp for special-needs children, and after getting married years later they decided to adopt four children from Kazakhstan who were abandoned at birth.

Daughter Hayden is the oldest daughter (8).  The two younger girls were born with Amniotic Band Syndrome which has resulted in amputated limbs:  Ryanne (7) has had both legs and one arm amputated, while Rina (3) has lost one leg.  Brother Nikolas (9) was recently diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, causing an inability to organize information as it comes through the senses.

Because of the multiple doctor's appointments, Katrina, who has a master's degree in education, home-schools the children.  Mike, an artist and jewelry designer who has also taught environmental education at camps for special-needs kids, has faced his own medical problems in recent years.  Over the past decade, he has undergone transplants for his pancreas and both kidneys. 

Giving back to this amazing family, as only Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition can do, means that while The Carrs are away (vacationing in Hawaii), their dangerous and cramped home is being rebuilt by team leader Ty Pennington, designers Ed Sanders, Paige Hemmis, John Littlefield and celebrity volunteer Bill Engvall

Come on in … the Water's Fine

"It was really funny how we kind of planned a little surprise attack on them," remembers Bethany when she first met the Carrs on the beach during their vacation.  "I went out surfing and caught a wave and rode it in to the beach to them, and they saw me coming.  It was pretty funny."

Bethany then spent time with the entire family, bonding especially with Katrina.  "She's an amazing woman.  Full of so much strength and love toward her children."

The Carr children even got to try out surfing under Bethany's tutelage and watchful eye.  But, according to Bethany, it was she who learned from them.

"For me, it was like learning from them almost.  …  Life is more than just your physical being.  You can really do things if you set your mind to it.  You'll see on the show, when you see Ryanne, Rina and Nikolas and just from their whole family.  They're just amazing."

Surfing on a Bigger Screen

Bethany's amazing story will jump to the big screen soon as her autobiography is being made into a movie of the same name by Sony Pictures and Affirm Films.  Starring Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood and AnnaSophia Robb (as Bethany), Soul Surfer recently wrapped shooting on Oahu and Kauai, and is now being edited.

"We filmed out on the North Shore of Oahu on Turtle Bay," shares Bethany.  "My family and I were there every step of the way.  I did a little bit of stunt surfing and was there giving tips each day on the set.  I'm not sure when it's going to come out … maybe either this Thanksgiving or early next year."

Until then, Bethany can be found doing a little surfing—and some surprising—as she makes a difference in the lives of the Carr family on Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition



Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition airs on Sunday nights at 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on ABC.  Click here for more information.



**This article first published on April 29, 2010.