When Clay Dyer hears stories like the one he heard from a man at the Bassmaster Classic several weeks ago, he knows he's in the right place for the right reasons.
The Hamilton, Ala., resident, born without any lower limbs, no left arm and only a partial right arm, became a professional fisherman at the age of 17 and fished on the FLW Tour for four years.
Now 34, he fishes the Bassmaster Open Series and selected charity events but also shares his life experiences through motivational and leadership presentations to companies, charities and churches.
This afternoon, Dyer is the featured speaker at the Sportsmen's Fish Fry at New Salem Baptist Church, 9806 Dallas Hollow Road, in Soddy-Daisy. Tickets to the event, which begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes dinner, are $10.
Earlier this year, a man pulled Dyer aside at the Bassmaster tournament in Tulsa., Okla., told him he'd been struggling about facing some potentially paralyzing surgery, had loaded a gun and was about to take his life. At that point on the television in front of him, a segment
on Dyer appeared. When it was done, the man said, he unloaded the gun and threw it in the garbage.
"When you hear things like that," Dyer says, "I strive, I put pressure on myself to make an impact. It's a very huge part of what motivates me to do what I do.
Yet, he says, "it's one of the most incredible blessings I receive."
Dyer says he was blessed with parents "who never tried to hold me back," wanted to "support me in my dreams" and told him if he wanted something "to go after it."
"They instilled so much confidence in me," he says, "that I could go full steam ahead to pursue my dreams."
One of those dreams was fishing. Dyer began fishing at age 5, developed a natural competitiveness early and began competing in fishing tournaments at age 15.
"I was very blessed early on to exude a lot of faith, self-determination and confidence in myself without crossing the line of being arrogant," he says.
In his appearances, Dyer talks about his faith and how everyone faces adversities.
"If it weren't for my faith," he says, "I wouldn't be where I am. The Bible says we are created perfect in his image, and I am blessed that he blessed me with talent, with the ability to be living my dream. He pulled me through my obstacles, my adversity, so the biggest thing I can do is help and encourage someone in their lives."
However, God never promised every day would be easy, Dyer says, but he also promised he will never leave us or forsake us.
"If you keep your faith in God, if you have the heart of God," he says, "there is no adversity God can't handle."
Dyer, who also serves as a volunteer assistant coach with the Hamilton High School football team, says his mom taught him a lesson more than 30 years ago.
"We want to question why we go through certain things," he says. "When I was about 4, I looked at Mom and said, 'Why did God make me this way?' Mom looked at me and said, 'I don't know why, but I know God doesn't make mistakes.'"
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...