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Clay Dyer started fishing at age 5 and became a professional angler at the age of 15. He’s fished in more than 200 bass tournaments and won about 20 of them. He enjoys driving his bass boat at full throttle and has a great love for football, serving as assistant football coach for Hamilton High School in Alabama.
None of this sounds extraordinary, until you see him in person. Dyer was born with no legs, no left arm and only a partial arm on the right. However, Dyer doesn’t see himself as handicapped and according to close friend Trent McLaughlin, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Lancaster, Dyer considers himself just as normal as everyone else.
“His motto is ‘if I can, you can,’” McLaughlin said. “And that is the absolute truth. He firmly believes that if he can do something, there’s nothing stopping anyone else from doing the same thing.”
Dyer was in Lancaster in September to speak at the Second Baptist Sportsman’s Banquet and he also spoke at the Sunday morning service at Antioch Baptist on Sept. 22. McLaughlin said it was standing room only.
“There were more than 600 people in our sanctuary that morning,” he said. “People are just mesmerized by him. I can honestly say he is the most amazing human being I have ever been around in my life. I’ve watched him eat ice cream cones, and dive in a swimming pool and swim the length of it and back before I even knew what was going on. When I drive him places, he tells me to leave the handicapped parking spots for people who really need them. And he is one of the finest Christian men you’ll ever meet.”
Eric Rowell, a Lancaster resident and correspondent for The Lancaster News, agreed.
“Physically, Clay is impressive,” said Rowell, who saw Dyer at the Sportsman’s Banquet. “He can do it all in spite of his disability and he does it with little help from others.”
Rowell said Dyer is an inspiration.
“Clay’s physical disability is just a rare occurrence,” he said. “Clay has overcome what so many others can’t. He has battled substance abuse and anger issues and has risen above it all to live a fulfilling life.”
McLaughlin said Dyer will be returning to Lancaster next year, but the more immediate event is Dyer’s marriage to fiancée Kim Bentley, which will take place Nov. 9 in Tennessee.
“One thing I admire about Clay is his great faith,” McLaughlin said. “He believes that God doesn’t make mistakes and that he is here for a reason. And he lives life to the fullest extent possible.”