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Special-needs camp to feature inspirational speaker
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Elsie Conde Memorial Special Needs Camp

  • Where: Field of Dreams at Alberta Banks Park
  • When: 9 a.m. to noon Monday through July 23; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 24

Clay Dyer was born without legs, a left arm and has a partial right arm. A professional angler of almost 15 years, Dyer has finished in more than 200 bass tournaments and placed first in about 20 state bass tournaments.

Most people who hear his story call it pure inspiration. Next Friday, he’ll share his story with special needs students at a Hall County sports camp.

"We hope the students will see his abilities and know that any child can do anything they really want," said Claire Maddox, executive director of Cross Training Sports Camps in Oakwood. "His life message is ‘If I can, you can,’ and I hope the kids can grasp that."

There are a handful of spots still open for Elsie Conde Memorial Special Needs Camp, which will run in the mornings next week at Field of Dreams.

The field, located at Alberta Banks Park, is a youth baseball-sized field designed for people with disabilities and a playground constructed to accommodate children who are unable to use playgrounds found in other parks around the county.

The camp is a first annual outdoor sports program named after Elsie Conde, Maddox’s granddaughter, who passed away two months after her birth due to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The syndrome occurs when the heart’s left side — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — is underdeveloped. Conde had open heart surgery just two days after her birth, and Maddox decided to dedicate the camp in her honor.

The camp will accommodate 25 children ages 6 to 18 with physical disabilities. About 60 trained volunteers plan to show the students how to play softball, soccer, basketball and rhythm to music.

"We’ll try group activities but also teach basic skills one-on-one, whether that’s dribbling or tossing a ball," Maddox said. "We want to work at whatever level they’re at."

Each camper will have a "buddy from the beginning of camp to the end," she said.

Dyer will speak to the students during a family event on Friday night.

"He ties his hooks and lures using his teeth and shoulder blade," Maddox said. "What an encouragement to us all."

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