Amputee Dayton Webber, 11, excels at wrestling -- and a whole lot more

Dayton Webber, 11, had his limbs amputated when he was 11 months old. He's now a known presence on the area's youth wrestling circuit.
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Here's the scouting report on 11-year-old Dayton Webber: No arms. No legs. Huge heart.

Whether he's wrestling, playing football, go-karting or ice skating, Dayton doesn't just participate -- he competes.

"I just like to do sports," Dayton said. "I feel like I can play sports and kind of show people what I can do -- that I can do sports just as good as them. I feel like I can do anything if I just put my mind to it."

For four years, Dayton, whose limbs were amputated when he was 11 months old because of a life-threatening bacterial infection, has wrestled competitively in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Dayton, who lives in the Charlotte Hall section of Charles County with his parents and his brothers Tyler, 17, and Justin, 5, started out with a club in Calvert County. Now he competes for Rampage Wrestling in Waldorf.

By now, Dayton is well known on the local wrestling circuit. When he started out, his very presence moved some parents of wrestlers on other teams to tears.

"It's a moving thing, seeing him out there, trying his heart out," William "Lou" Hennessy said.

Hennessy, a district court judge in Charles, first saw Dayton at a competition two years ago. He rounded up his three sons, who were wrestling for another team, and a teenager who also wrestled and was living with his family and had them watch Dayton. "Some kids don't know how good they have it," Hennessy said.

Dayton doesn't quite get all the fuss. Sports run through his family, so competition is in his blood. He would have it no other way.

A lot of kids are curious when he meets them, said Dayton, an articulate sixth-grader. They ask how he lost his hands and feet and parts of his arms and legs. He answers. It's no big deal.

Every now and then, he said, a kid will express doubt that Dayton can play or compete. And then that drives him.

"Anything they say I can't do, I try to show them I can do it," Dayton said.

He showed his drive at a recent match in Waldorf, where no one batted an eye during his bout. The referee blew his whistle, and Dayton and Mac Scott began grappling for position.

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