- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
April has become an important month for the Webber family of Charlotte Hall and to the two million people in America living with limb loss. The Amputee Coalition has named April limb loss awareness month.
Dayton Webber and his mother, Natalie, sat across their dining room table Sunday and looked at each other as only a mother and son could, with the utmost unconditional love and admiration.
Natalie celebrates the heart and fighting spirit in her son, saying that they are blessed that he is so outgoing, and Dayton looked at his mother as she talked about the days she spent in the hospital with Dayton when he was just 11 months old.
A bacterial infection, streptococcus pneumoniae, had entered Dayton’s body and Natalie and her husband, Mike, were faced with the life-changing news that amputation was the route necessary to save their child.
Both arms and legs then were amputated and Dayton spent the next month fighting for his life and then the next five months or so for the healing process in the hospital, preparing for his new life as he knew it.
“He got sick one day and it went from bad to worse in a New York minute,” Natalie said.
Dayton’s younger brother came inside for a drink and sat next to him.
Dayton’s older brother, Tyler, came into the house and instantly smiled at his brother. They talked about the early years.
“He’s pretty inspiring to a lot of people,” Tyler said. “I was 7 [when Dayton was diagnosed]. He’s always pretty much been the same, mature. Even as far as a few years back he was still riding a motorcycle.”
As his father entered the dining room, the conversation soon shifted to the sport that the two of them now share together and with a huge smile they began talking about hunting, remembering precise dates. Dayton has his own deer stand in the backyard and showed how he holds the crossbow.
“In 2007 I shot my first deer. It was a doe,” Dayton said. “It was about average size.”
Mike added, “On Sept. 15, 2010, opening day of deer season, he shot a five-point buck.”
Dayton added, “I shot four in one day with four different guns.”
Dayton and his father also share a passion for wrestling.
Mike wrestled at Chopticon for his entire four years in high school with some of the greatest wrestlers to take to the Braves mats and was coached by current head coach Dane Kramer, who celebrated 30 years as head coach in 2011. Ironically, Kramer taught Dayton in sixth grade when he was a student at Mother Catherine Spalding School in Helen.
“We live on the Charles County side of Charlotte Hall,” Natalie said, “so Dayton will go to La Plata High School next year.”
Natalie is a 1990 La Plata graduate and said they recently visited the school and everything is still set up the same way.
Dayton has been a member of the Southern Maryland Junior Wrestling League for the past five years and currently wrestles 60- to 70-pound opponents. He is coached by Jason Kiessling, a 2007 ACC champion at the University of Maryland.
Dayton uses leg attacks and scoots quickly around his opponents, and uses his upper body strength. His leg stumps are protected by rubber liners containing gel.
Dayton is also a nose guard for the Hughesville Hurricanes football team.
Dayton, who will turn 14 on June 23, has hopes of working in the engineering field and also talked about a desire to maybe become a preacher as well.
There’s undoubtedly no mistake about the fact that Dayton sets his goals high.
“I like pushing myself and showing everybody that I can do what everyone else can do.” Dayton said.
“He’s tough as nails,” Natalie said. “Whatever his limitations are, which we’ve yet to find them, don’t hold him back. His little brother Justin thinks he’s fearless, he’s not afraid to do anything.”
Dayton and Natalie are members of the Amputees Helping Amputees support group that meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick. The group serves to support members as they go through transitions in life and to help them form friendships. They write a newsletter together each month for the group.
Call Scarlet Shaw at 410-535-8210 to join the group.
“It offers an opportunity for a new amputee or for someone that’s been an amputee for a while some support,” Natalie said.
The Amputee Coalition of America, a nonprofit group, has set aside April 21 as Limb Loss Education Day and it will host a seminar in Atlanta.
Setting the month of April aside to raise awareness is very important to Dayton and Natalie.
“We just really want to get the month out there, to get more people to be aware of the causes and that it can happen to anybody,” Dayton said.
“There is a checklist on the website where people can look and see where they are healthwise,” Natalie said.
The next step for the Webber family is to get Dayton onto the wrestling mats at La Plata High.
“I look forward to Dayton coming in and setting an example because I know what kind of young man he is,” La Plata head wrestling coach John Pankhurst said.