Our guest this week is Tom Hamilton. Tom has three children, one of whom, Bethany, is a champion surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack at age 13. But that didn’t stop Bethany! She still surfs, she’s had her story told in books and movies and has dedicated her life to helping others. Her Dad Tom is our guest on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Find all about Soul Surfer, the movie and the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_Surfer_(film)
Find out about Beautifully Flawed, The Forge Program and Shine Forth at:
Beautifully Flawed Foundation – https://bethanyhamilton.com/events/beautifully-flawed
Tom Couch: Special, thanks to horizon therapeutics for sponsoring today’s special father’s network, dad to dad podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about horizon therapeutics, mission at horizon therapeutics .com
Tom Hamilton: one of my friend Noah’s best friends. He was also a shark attack victim. His name is Mike Coots. He lost his leg below the knee, and he was the first person in the hospital besides our immediate family to talk to Bethany. And he just really gave her the hope that you can do this, you know, um, I’m surfing again, loss of my lamb and it’s totally attainable.
You can do. And she just had this glimmer of hope.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest, Tom Hamilton. Tom has three children. One of whom Bethany was a champion surfer who lost an arm and a sharp. But that didn’t stop Bethany. She still surfs. She’s had her story told in books and movies. She helps others and her dad, Tom is our guest on this special father’s network.
Dad to dad podcast say hello to David Hirsch. Hi, and
David Hirsch: thanks for listening to the dad to dad, podcast, fathers, mentoring, fathers of children with special. Presented by the special fathers network. This
Tom Couch: special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation.
It’s a great way for dads to support dads, to find out more, go to 21st century dads.org. And
David Hirsch: if your dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad
Tom Couch: to and now let’s listen to this inspiring conversation between Tom Hamilton and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Tom Hamilton of Princeville Hawaii, who is the father of three, a Vietnam veteran, and accomplished surfer, retired waiter, and more recently a grandfather. Tom, thank you for taking the time. Do a podcast interview this special father. Thank you for having me, you and your wife share.
I’ve been married for 41 years and of the proud parents of three Noah, 39, Tim 35 and Bethany 31 who survived a shark attack at age 13. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your
Tom Hamilton: family. I grew up in ocean city. New Jersey, coastal town actually was founded by the Methodist way back in the day.
You couldn’t even drive a car in there. You had to walk or take a carriage. It’s still a dry town to this day. They’ve never allowed liquor or restaurants to serve liquor. So, but it was a really nice community. Everybody knew each other, but it would go from maybe 60,000 people to over 200,000 in the summer because it was a destination for.
David Hirsch: Got it. So when do I recall, uh, you’re the youngest of four children? Yes. What was it like growing up as the baby in the family?
Tom Hamilton: Actually, my brother, my oldest brother and sister, you know, I’m sure they were really, really good to me, but I wasn’t that close to them growing up because of the age spread. But my second youngest.
Mike. We spent a lot of time together. He had other interests than me, but we still had good quality time as brothers.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Excellent. Out of curiosity, what does your dad do
Tom Hamilton: for a living? My dad was a dentist and he specialized in oral surgery, but he did, um, all types of dentistry. Okay. How
David Hirsch: would you characterize your relationship with your dad
Tom Hamilton: overall?
It was very good. He worked a lot. And didn’t have a whole lot of time off, I think, you know, nowadays, and you could probably attest to this. We try to spend more time with our kids than back in the day when we were younger. But I got to say, my dad was always loving, supportive, and he was a little league baseball coach for me for time.
So that was really neat to have that relationship with him.
David Hirsch: Was he an athletic person himself?
Tom Hamilton: Yeah, my dad was very athletic. He was a really good swimmer. His passion was tennis, even in his later years, he played in like super seniors, tennis tournaments in the area and stuff. So he, yeah, that was like his go-to sport.
So no I’m
David Hirsch: thinking about takeaways as it relates to relationship with your dad. Are there any important lessons or stories that come to mind that embellish the relationship with your.
Tom Hamilton: Well, one of the greatest things he ever did for me was bought, bought me my first surf board in a local hardware store.
And there actually was a surf shop in town, but he went and he never would. He always went in the hardware store and he saw some surfboards. He bought me one, but I think it was for my 12th or 13th birthday as a result of that, I really got into surfing and with one of my best friends, his name was Malkin.
Each carriage help each other carry these big, heavy boards to the beach. Later on in as years passed, my dad told me a funny joke that he said it was a worst mistake he ever made because it resulted in me after getting out of high school, going to on my first surf trip to California, which I extended and then eventually ended up where are they here in Hawaii?
Because of my passion for surfing and PIM by me that first surfboard, if I can
David Hirsch: paraphrase what you’ve said, sort of reflected on that being a mistake, because it satisfies you to leave right
Tom Hamilton: to leave. I’m the only four children that have left, uh, New Jersey. Uh, well actually my older brother lives in Delaware.
That’s close by though, but I’m the only one. I was kind of the black sheep of the family that. Moved on and, uh, permanently moved on. So, well, at least
David Hirsch: the suntan sheep of the family, if not black sheep of the family living in Hawaii.
Tom Hamilton: And my, most of my family enjoys coming and visiting me now in Hawaii, it’s not a bad place to come visit, especially this time of year.
David Hirsch: from what I remember, yeah. One from New Jersey out to California. And was it school that you were interested in going to, or was it surfing that brought you to California? Initially?
Tom Hamilton: I cannot lie. It was surfing, but I wasn’t interested in going to school because I could get the GI bill and have a little bit of income from that.
And I, my parents and I did want to go to college too. So I ended up going to a junior college in San Diego. It’s called Mesa college. I did, did pretty well. And then when I moved to Hawaii, I ended up transferring to the university of Hawaii, a junior college on Kauai, where I live right now.
David Hirsch: You, uh, jumped over something important though.
You mentioned the GI bill, but you didn’t mention serving. And I’m wondering what were the course of events that took you from initially surfing in California to Hawaii
Tom Hamilton: eventually. Well, when I was California, I said, I was only going to go for two, two weeks. I ended up going for a month. And then when I came back, my father and handed me a physical notice to get drafted and the Vietnam war was raging at the time.
So I had to go to Philadelphia. Of course I passed. And then they gave me. I think they gave you 60 days to either join which service you wanted to join, or they would put you where they needed you the most. So in high school and my swim coach, I swam varsity swimming. He was a retired Navy commander and he was in the reserves.
So he got me into the Navy. Then eventually ended up in San Diego on a ship heading to Vietnam. It actually all happened really quick.
David Hirsch: What was it that drew you to Hawaii?
Tom Hamilton: Well, basically when we left San Diego, we pulled into Pearl Harbor to refuel and replenish. And I just saw the beauty though, Hawaiian islands.
And I always knew it had some of the best surf in the world. And during the course of my time on that ship, my best friend turned out to be a Hawaiian guy and he didn’t surf. He was a very good body. But he always would tease me cause he saw me getting surfer magazine in the mail. You need to come to Hawaii and ride some real waves.
Cause he couldn’t believe New Jersey had good waves. What should actually does people from California fly to New Jersey to surf swells these days, which is hard to believe, but they do. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Well, thanks for sharing. Yeah. And from a career standpoint, I know that you’ve done some construction work and I think.
You mentioned to me that you’d retired after 24 years of being a fine dining waiter at the Princeville hotel there in Kauai. Right. But it was the surfing. That really was what drew you to Hawaii. And if I recall, it’s how you met Sherry as well.
Tom Hamilton: Yeah. I met Sherry actually out surfing. I saw her around, but saw more out surfing, um, Yeah.
She used to drop in on me and right in front of me and it wasn’t a bad view riding behind her. So that’s how we kind of got, got to know each other.
David Hirsch: My recollection was she was a pretty accomplished surfer herself.
Tom Hamilton: Yeah. She was very, very good surfer. I’d say in the top four of women on the island at the time she was a standout for sure.
David Hirsch: Well, let’s talk about a specialty it’s first on a personal level and then beyond. I’m sort of curious to know before the shark attack, that Bethany experience in 2003, did you ever share, you have any experience with the special needs
Tom Hamilton: community? No, I can’t say we did. Not at all.
David Hirsch: Well, many people know the story because it’s been a well-told story.
I’m wondering how did it transpire from your perspective?
Tom Hamilton: Well, I was actually in the hospital being prepped for. Arthroscopic knee surgery and the doctor, his name’s Dr. Rybicki. We knew each other from surfing. He was a very good orthopedic, but he also was a surfer and he did a lot of free diving too. He said, Hey, do you want to go to sleep?
Or do you want to get a spinal tap and watch your surgery on the TV monitor? I said, well, maybe I’ll try that. So they did a spinal tap, which I’ll never do it. ’cause. I was like getting electrocuted. They had a difficult time tapping me and I was like levitating off the bed until they finally got it. And then I finally got numbed up and they, they prepped me.
The nurses were there, the anesthesiologists had already left and the door slammed open and it was a emergency room doctor. And he said, Dr. Dave, we need this operating room. There’s a shark attack. Victim arriving. And I looked at this guy and I just said, do you know who it is? And he says, oh, we know it’s a young girl from the north shore.
And then Dr. Dave says, Tom, let me go see what’s happening. He came back in the operating room and he had tears dripping off his chin, proceeded to tell me it was Bethany. And, um, he says, Tom, we gotta roll you out of here. She’s taking your place. So I actually had to go into recovery room. I couldn’t get up and walk because I was numb from being tapped out by the spinal tap.
And, um, I believe it or not, um, nobody told me, or let me know that her arm was missing until I actually had an, was able to walk into her recovery room and look down and see her for the first time. And she was white as a ghost, like a sheet of paper from loss of blood. And it blew my mind that our arm was gone.
And, uh, that’s kind of where it all began right there. Um, I was traumatized beyond belief because it’s every surface, worst nightmare to get attacked by a shark, but not all people who get tacked by sharks, lose limbs. You can get some stitches and stuff and survive fine. But, and then her just being so young and having such a, um, she was just incredibly naturally talented athlete as, and people were already talking about her being a pro surfer and eventually becoming a world champion that was kind of where, where she was heading.
And all of a sudden that all just got cut off, you know, She’s accomplished so much since then. It’s only, God, God could give you, you get the glory for that.
David Hirsch: So you mentioned that your first reaction was just being overwhelmed with the situation cause nobody had sort of cued you in while you were recovering from the. Not surgery, but being prepped for the surgery that you were anticipating having. Right. Right. What were the fears that you and Sherry had early on that first couple of days?
The first couple of,
Tom Hamilton: you know, we just didn’t know what to do. We just saw her future and our, our futures, like totally annihilated. Never knew if she’d ever want to go back in the ocean.
Sherry was even talking about going to mammoth. Cause she worked there before she moved to Hawaii, which is a ski resort in Northern California. But you know, after awhile, her brothers who were totally traumatized. So we were all. Just kept loving on her. And one of my friend Noah’s best friends, he was also a shark attack victim.
His name is Mike Coots. He lost his leg below the knee, and he was the first person in the hospital besides our immediate family to talk to Bethany. What? So some miraculous, cause he flew in for a friend’s wedding and he did. Really gave her the hope that you can do this, you know, um, I’m surfing again and bodyboarding with loss of my lamb.
And then he told her, I tried paddling with one arm today and it’s totally attainable. You can do it. And she just had this glimmer of hope and she heard it from someone else besides her immediate family. And I think that was just all set up by God, because he was going to school in California. He came back for it with.
Yeah, it does.
David Hirsch: It does sound like divine intervention, right. That, uh, right. This Mike Coots happen to be there and, you know, was able to share with her from his own personal experience, not like a loving parent saying, Hey honey, things are going to be okay. Be patient, you know, there’s proof, right. Literally in front of her.
Right. You don’t have to have blind faith, but. Somebody there that you know, is documenting the fact that, uh, you know, it’s possible, right. It’s not a for sure thing, but it’s possible.
Tom Hamilton: Yeah. And he, him and my son, Noah we’re good friends. They used to ride the bus together, go to school. And of course, Noah got ahold of him not knowing he arrived that day.
Uh, our plants at all, just got shattered. But we also had a hope. My wife Sherry was just so happy that she was alive and she survived. And I was as angry as I’ve ever been a God that had happened. So it was like two different and that’s just normal. Now everybody has different feelings on what happened and why it happened.
How come it happened, why me, why her, you know, A lot of struggles for me as a dad, you know?
David Hirsch: So going back to Bethany’s situation, when you look back on it, cause my recollection was she got into the water very quickly, like a month or so after. Was there a turning point? Not for you, you just described your own turning point, but was there a turning point for about the knee or maybe a couple of turning points for her as far as how she dealt with the trauma and all the uncertainty that was going on as a adolescent.
Right? I mean, she’s super young. She’s only 13 years old. Right. But what was it that helped her overcome where there’s some turning points.
Tom Hamilton: Yeah, just getting back in the ocean for the first time. And she wrote a longboard and she struggled, like getting up. And I finally, I said, Hey, you gotta put your hand on the stringer.
There’s a stringer goes down in the middle of the board cause she’s pushing up on the side and it was tipping the board and she was losing momentum. I find that she figured it out when she got her first wave and wrote it to the beach. There was a lot of people there just happened to be one of those days.
And a lot of the best surfers sound quiet, this particular spot, and everybody’s just started hooting and hollering. And it was like major and she had tears, but that was, she broke through the barrier right then. And then within a short time, I’d say less than a month, she was going surfing every day.
Figuring out how to paddle with one arm and stay straight. And she was doing one-armed push-ups in our living room, doing everything she could mentally and physically to overcome. I wouldn’t call it a disability because she gives anybody, says she’s disabled a stink-eye, they call it in Hawaii. She just doesn’t believe she’s handicapped or disabled.
And that’s why she’s doing what she’s doing. Her mind is that strong. I mean, she struggled somewhat with how she looked, you know, and, but her happy place was in the ocean when she got back in the ocean, God just healed her. I think a whole lot of things, you know, The thought of how am I ever going to accomplish what I was pursuing again?
And she did.
David Hirsch: Yeah. It’s quite remarkable. Yeah. So I’m sort of curious to know what impact Bethany’s situations had on her older brothers, Noah and Tim, your marriage, or your extended family for that
Tom Hamilton: matter? Oh, well, you know, the, her brothers were her biggest fans and they saw, see Bethany, Bethany had a God given gift.
Um, I’m not being too weird to say that Michael Jordan had that gift tiger woods had that gift. Tom Brady has that gift and you could see that she had a special gift that most people didn’t have. And she was always self-motivated like she trained without that or mom telling her what to do. She just knew in her heart and soul, what she had to do to get to.
Level she wanted to get to, and she did have a local surf coach that better on the team. This was before the accident. He is from Australia and he coached world champions. And he said that there was no doubt in his mind that Bethany was going to reach the level of a professional surfer. Most likely become a world champion during her time.
And then when he, when everybody saw what she was doing within like a couple of months, she wanted to go compete again. We were surfing this spot that you could get out through the reef real easy. And I was really traumatized, but we’re watching her. She couldn’t paddle out through the whitewater. The board would flip out.
God gave me a vision that she needed a handle and real crudely made some handles for her boards. And she could control our board without the board flying away, or she’s walking through the shallow water. She could will hold onto the board with a handle. Anyway, make a long story short. I’ve done a couple of hundred handles since that day.
And I’ve sent, handles all over the world for one arm surfers, not just other surfers that got lost their limb to the shark attack, but some through cancers, some through electrocutions thrown through car cardiac. Let’s say contact the hurt foundation and say, Hey, is there any way I could get a couple of handle setups so I can do what Beth and he’s doing.
I’ve sent him to South Africa, Australia, Florida, all over the world. And I’ve had people say, why don’t you patent that? I go, no, I’m not going to patent it. I’m doing it out of love. I want to see whoever gets this to overcome the struggle that I know they’re struggling with. It’s like a blessing for me to send out these setups, you know,
David Hirsch: is it called something?
Do they call the handle something?
Tom Hamilton: We just call it the handle. I don’t know. Both of her brothers are struggling really hard to see what she was dealing with. And, but so supportive the best brothers you could have, you know, but not to the point where they’re trying to help her do everything cause she didn’t want much help.
She just wanted to be able to. Overcome the challenges on her own, you know, but they, they were right there, especially during her early comebacks sessions of surfing and stuff, you know, do whatever they could to help her. No.
David Hirsch: So let’s talk about the beyond experience. One of the early things Bethany was involved with is writing a book, titled soul surfer, a true story of faith, family, and fighting to get back on the board, which my recollection came out in 2004, just a year or so after the shark attack. And it seemed like that helped.
Catalyzed things for, how would you describe the impact writing the book and then the reception of the book had for her?
Tom Hamilton: We weren’t sure we wanted to write a book, but then the more we thought about it, we thought it could be really good to help other people who are struggling with whatever they’re struggling with.
And actually a pastor on Kauai was the co co-writer of the book. He’s a good friend. Who’s written a lot of books. That was the assignment Schuster book and it made the best seller list back then on the New York times and the LA times and its claim to fame, is it knocked Donald Trump’s book off the best sellers list when it came out?
I love it. I don’t, I get political, but I remember that happening. I didn’t even know who Donald Trump was, but. As a result of that book and doing so well, then we were approached to make the movie soul surfer, which I think turned out really well in the end. There was quite a bit of her faith and mention of God and everything.
And we were basically pretty darn happy with the movie,
David Hirsch: as long as we’re talking about the movie. And there are quite a few other books, I’m just going to make reference to some of the other books. So if we don’t come back, rise above a 90 day devotional, body and stuff, A girl’s guide to fit fun and a fabulous life, um, be unstoppable, the art of never giving up, uh, devotions for the soul surfer.
Those are some of the other books that Bethany’s name is associated with. Yeah. Yeah. I’m so impressed with her, um, productivity that she’s had this interest in putting her thoughts in writing and sharing it to inspire others. Not only young girls, but well beyond. To overcome some of the challenges they have in their life.
But switching over to the movie, which I understood came out about six or seven years after the book, the movie is also. You were played by Dennis Quaid and Sherry was played by Helen Hunt. If I remember.
Tom Hamilton: Yes, that’s right. No. Why terrible things happen to us sometimes that I have to believe that something good is going to come out of this.
What’s all the stuff. A little fan mail, sorted it out by country. There’s an eighth grader from North Carolina who lost his arm. He’s going to try. School soccer team cause of me and his wording for me in my next competition, I need to help. It’s not going to be used. I don’t eat easy. I
David Hirsch: just stayed possible.
The greatest surfing. They know when the best waves are comfortable feeling.
Tom Hamilton: Got that gift to
David Hirsch: what were your thoughts at the time? Did it seem like a surreal experience or what was that
Tom Hamilton: like? It was so much surreal. Um, The gut become very good friends with Dennis. He was great. They were, they, they let me actually pick him to play me. There’s like three or four male actors that they’re looking at.
Kurt Russell’s one Dennis Quaid. I looked at some of Dennis’s movies and he had a lot of movies where he was a father, you know, they were family type movies. And I just saw, he, I just liked his. Temperament and I just fit, man, this guy, if I was gonna have anybody play me, I want Dennis Quaid and they honored my request.
I think he was pretty much in the top two at that point. Anyway,
David Hirsch: so the, uh, a more recent movie, Bethany Hamilton unstoppable, which came out in 2018 is more of a document. Well, what was that
Tom Hamilton: experience like? You know, we were just really totally a hundred percent behind that because it was a true story and it was what she wanted to tell.
Um, and, uh, you know, it took four and a half years from start to finish on that because she got pregnant in the middle. And had to have a baby. Um, but yeah, it was the guy who, who was the director and producer and filmer his name’s Aaron Leiber. He did an incredible job. Um, you know, people were amazed at her surfing in that.
And her level of, uh, commitment and training. She, she trained so hard and worked, worked out so hard to get tip top shape for that. So her husband’s an incredible guy to Adam, so it wasn’t much time to thing sharp. You just take them out. You know, we didn’t hear anything or. Uh, Bethany just goes on. I got attacked by a shark and she started paddling in towards us.
I looked down and saw that my whole arm was gone and I don’t know, just kind of freaked me out. I don’t think she was going to make it, but before we were heading to the hospital, um, one of the paramedics came up to me and he was spirit. God will never leave you nor forsake you in my ear.
David Hirsch: Well, let’s talk a bit about the foundation. Um, formerly known as the friends of Bethany foundation, but now renamed as the beautifully flawed foundation it’s been in existence for quite a few years. And from what I remember, there are four different programs. If I can call them that beautifully flawed, shine, forth, anchored in law.
And the forge. And I’m wondering if we could spend a moment just talking about each, to share with our listeners what each of these components is about?
Tom Hamilton: Sure. Well, beautifully flawed. I think they’ve been doing it close to 11 or 12 years now. It’s the reach out to young girls predominantly and to be accepted into the re it’s a retreat you have to be missing out on.
The foundation members and the board, and they read through a whole lot of applications and it’s hard. They got to whittle it down to like 16 girls. Cause it’s all they can handle at one time. But every one of those girls comes to a, uh, they rent a house in the scripts Institute, actually donates a house right next door.
So they can all be real close by. Girls love those girls come in there and they’re totally like. They have real low self-esteem, they’re made fun of by other girls in school because they’re missing a leg or missing an arm or missing a hand and an arm, but between Bethany and my daughter-in-law Becky and Sarah Hill, and they bring in some real, really neat motivational speakers.
And that’s what, he’s a very good motivational speaker, by the way, these girls, after four days, they leave totally changed. They put so much love into these girls and they give them a surf day. They get them all up surfing. They can’t get up on their own. One of the surfers will, you know, ride tandem like two on a board, but most of the girls actually get up on their own and right away to the beach.
And it’s just. The smiles and the laughter and the hoots and hollers, you know, and it just does so much for their soul and their spirit. They leave, they’re like built up and they’re strong instead of weak. And they’re, I’m ready to face the challenges of life with a whole new image, you know, I dunno. They just, it’s an incredible event.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it sounds like these are sort of peer-to-peer as well as transformative experiences. They’re not looking at themselves the same way and what I might refer to as sort of a deficit model. Right. You know, that I’m less than, and the realizing that. No, I just have to find a new way to do things.
And, you know, they’re seeing all these role models. Um, they realize that they’re not alone while they might be alone in their own community or along, you know, in their small friend group. Um, they realize that there’s other people like themselves that have been able to overcome and figure out what does it take to lead the life I want to look.
So I, I think these are just amazing programs, beautifully flawed. And then the. So, what are the shine forth on the anchored in love programs about,
Tom Hamilton: um, both of those programs piggyback off beautifully flawed and they have, I think one night before beautifully flawed starts, I think it’s accurate in love and it’s, they usually do it at a big church and Bethany gets up and just encourages the kids and the girls.
And then they have, you know, Women who are really talented in different expertise is speaking. God’s love into their hearts and overcoming whatever they’re struggling with. You know, teenage girls, they’re all going through something and shine forth is similar to that. They do that at the end of the, um, beautifully flawed.
So all three of those events are run back to back to back and. They’ve been very, very successful. I don’t know a lot of God’s love throughout everything that Bethany’s foundation does. You know, it’s just all about encouraging and helping people overcome minor things and major things and everything in between.
Yeah. Well, I
David Hirsch: admire her for not only the accomplishments that she’s had and overcoming her own challenges, but, uh, for having the heart to reach out to others, right. Inspire others. And I would refer to it as sort of a calling. Right. You know, it’s given her purpose, right. It’s one thing to be able to serve and have these accomplishments personally.
But it’s another thing to use the gifts you’ve been given and make an impact in other people’s lives, in such a profile.
Tom Hamilton: Yeah. You know, she still gets lots of fan mail. I mean, after the first year or so after her attack, she was getting like stacks and stacks of letters every month. But yeah, she still has, gets fan mail to this day.
I go, oh, 10 RPO by. She’ll have three or four almost every day from somewhere in the country, young girls, mostly.
David Hirsch: I’m thinking about advice now, and I’m wondering if there’s any important takeaways you can share with a dad who might be raising a child with a physical or an intellectual disability for
Tom Hamilton: that matter.
Yeah. You know, I’ve had opportunity to talk to some dads and don’t always have the answers, but I always just encourage them to like, Don’t give up, you know, spend that time you need with your daughter or your son to help them, you know, attain as normal life as they can. You know, she does this organization, uh, Make-A-Wish almost every year and she does a surf camp at sometimes there’s like six families to come in.
And one of the children is, is pretty much terminal or could be terminal. And this is such an incredible organization. They, um, they fly the whole family unit in, give them a van, give them a stipend for buying stuff. They put them up. And, um, the thing that Make-A-Wish does is they include the whole family, not just the, the ill kid, you know, we just see how, not only does the wish, wish child.
Get their wish. They get to go surfing with Bethany or just spend time with her under a coconut tree, or she can talk to them and encourage them and lift them up and help them through stuff that maybe mom and dad can’t help them through. But all the other children also benefit, you know, because they, they, they bring them in as a whole unit.
I mean, we’ve had one family with eight kids come and. It’s a family of 10, you know, well, normally it’s at least two or three plus mom and dad and these kids have cystic fibrosis. They have cancers, they have gnarly, gnarly diseases that there’s, you know, in and out of the hospital. And it’s so such a burden on the parents.
So my wife and I have time to take a walk on the beach with dad or, and Sherry can walk with mom. Just give them as much advice and help and support as we can. And I’ve done that on the phone with quite a few parents, especially dads. It tends to be me with the dad and my wife working with the mom. And it’s so fulfilling to just to help them hear something from somebody who’s gone through something similar, but maybe totally different, but still something that you struggle with.
Try to help them overcome, or at least lift them to the point where they have more belief in what they’re doing, helping.
David Hirsch: I love it. Thank you for sharing. I’m sort of curious to know why is it you’ve agreed to be a mentor father as part of the special father’s network?
Tom Hamilton: I dunno, I’m just, I’m thrilled to be a father and I’m even more thrilled to be a grandfather and yeah, I just.
I appreciate what you’re doing, your organization. And I think it’s, uh, something that’s really needed from what everything I’ve watched. I’ve watched about three or four of your podcasts and they’re all super encouraging and they’re all very different. I think the spectrum that you’re reaching is so broad.
It’s, it’s great. And it’s, it’s really something that, uh, I think God says hand on. And I think you guys are, especially, you. Doing a work that is really necessary and much needed, especially in the chaotic world we’re living on right now.
David Hirsch: Tom, thank you for taking the time in many insights as reminder, Tom is just one of the dads who is part of the special fathers network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs.
If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation, your own, please go to 21st century dads.org. Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the special fathers network data dad podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did as you probably.
The 21st century dad’s foundation as a 5 0 1 C3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free, to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tech sectoral contribution? I would really appreciate yourself. Tom.
Tom Hamilton: Thanks again. Thank you for having me
Tom Couch: and thank you for listening to the dad to dad podcast presented by the special fathers network.
The special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers go to 21st century dads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help, or we’d like to ask. We would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad. Also, please be sure to register for the special father’s network. Bi-week zoom calls held on the first and third, Tuesday of every month.
Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story. No, have a compelling story. Please send an email to David@twentyfirstcenturydads.org. The
Tom Couch: dad to dad podcast was produced by couch audio for the special father’s network. Thanks again to horizon therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives.
That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about horizon therapeutics at horizontherapeutics.com.