Clay began fishing at age 5. His grandfather, an avid outdoorsman, not only taught him how to fish but instilled in him his Christian faith and courage to overcome. A natural competitiveness became evident early. Clay never allowed his physical disabilities to be an obstacle and began competing in fishing tournaments at age 15. He became a professional angler in 1995 and fished in the “major leagues” on the FLW Tour for 4 years.
He never wanted to use special equipment to fish at that level. Instead, he watched other fishermen and through trial and error taught himself to cast, reel and tie a lure with his teeth like the best of them.
Fishing won Clay’s heart because he loves being out in God’s creation, enjoying time with family in the outdoors. His unique fishing career has given him the opportunity to be an inspiration to so many. It has served as a platform for him and his wife, Kim to share their secrets of a triumphant lifestyle.
When asked what encouragement Clay has for the kids that attend our C.A.S.T. for Kids events, Clay said,
Through fishing or whatever your dreams, my desire would be that you would never let any obstacles or adversity you face in life defeat you. God will give you the strength and wisdom to make good decisions. Despite what you’re facing, put your faith in God, in His strength and wisdom and He will help you overcome.”
That’s what the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation is all about. We empower families and communities to celebrate children with special needs, making these children feel valued and loved so they can overcome limitations and be successful.
Clay’s wife, Kim shared a story of how Clay’s life’s motto “If I can, you can” is lived out and impacts those around him every day. They had just returned from their honeymoon and were moving into their new home. It was pouring rain and so much still needed to be unloaded, including an upright piano still in the moving truck. Their dog was running around and needed to be put on a leash.
However, even with Kim, her daughter and son-in-law trying, they couldn’t put the stake in the ground for the dog. Clay asked what was wrong. Kim responded, “We can’t get the stake in the ground. But don’t fool with it. It can’t be done.”
This was just the invitation Clay needed. He went outside and after a few minutes, came back, soaking wet, covered with mud. He yelled, “Honey, I did it!” He had used his teeth and his nub to accomplish what others with more resources couldn’t.
Don’t ever say you can’t do something, no matter what. We all have a “thing,” whether it’s a disability or a handicap but if we have Christ, we can overcome it!”
The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation isn’t just about teaching kids with special needs to fish. It’s about teaching them life skills that will carry them through.
At our events, loving volunteers impart courage and confidence to these children to try new things, believing they can accomplish anything. Because, just as Clay experienced, as these kids hit the water in search of fish and fun, the day’s challenges fade and anything becomes possible.
It’s this beautiful belief that together, kids, families and volunteers become a team in pursuit of adventure which bonds them as they experience the wonderful joys of fishing.