Brave Books Story Hour features popular female athletes Riley Gaines and Bethany Hamilton

A standing-room-only crowd of all ages packed a Missouri library on Friday to hear athlete and activist Riley Gaines and professional surfer Bethany Hamilton spread positive messages for children about overcoming challenges.

Gaines, a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Kentucky, and Hamilton, a professional surfer, visited The Library Center in Springfield, Missouri as part of the Brave Books Story Hour tour. Brave Books publishes children’s books focused on families and biblically-based values.Gaines read her newly published book, Happy No Snakes Day, about standing courageously for the truth, and Hamilton read her book, Surfing Past Fear, about a surfing otter overcoming the challenge of a broken arm.

Gaines has become widely known for women’s sports advocacy after a decorated collegiate swimming career which also saw her face trans swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male.

Hamilton has also become well known after her autobiography, Soul Surfer, became a feature film in 2011. It tells the story of how she almost lost her life surfing at 13 when her left arm was nearly bitten off by a shark. Amazingly she eventually surfed professionally after the injury.

Both women attribute their success and advocacy to their Christian faith.

More than 150 adults and children filled the story hour room to capacity, while hundreds more waited in a line that stretched outside the building. Brave Books sponsored more than 20 other story hour events nationwide in the last year, with similarly large turnouts.

The crowd was primarily made up of women who brought their children or grandchildren to hear the athletes speak.NOTE: This is borrowed