Anthony Smith was born without his right hand and knew from an early age that he would face a lot of challenges in his life.
Smith sat down for an interview with KFVS and talked about growing up as a one-handed kid and his life as a one handed firefighter.
When asked how he was born without a right hand, Smith said, “The cord got wrapped around my wrist whenever I was in my mom's stomach,” Smith said. “And it ended up cutting my hand off.”
Growing up, people wondered if Smith could handle certain tasks, due to his handicap, but the concerns were even bigger when he decided to join the Horseshoe Lake, Illinois Fire Department more than a decade ago.
“Whenever I got on here, some of the guys were like 'I don't know, he may not be able to do some of the things,'” Smith said.
Fire Chief Michael Honey barely remembers the first fire the two men fought together, but he distinctly remembers watching Smith work.
“It was different,” Honey said. “I'm like there's no way he can do what other people can.“
Smith defied the odds and silenced his critics in the fire department by doing all the work other firefighters do with one hand.
“He can do anything that everyone else can do and probably better,” Honey said.
Smith has been a volunteer firefighter since he was 16 years old.
“I fell in love with it,” Smith said. “That first fire we went to, the lights and sirens going down there, fighting fires, it was an adrenaline rush, and I loved it, and I've been hooked ever since.”
Anthony Smith has been a volunteer firefighter since he was 16 years old.
According to Smith, his missing hand is part of who he is, and he has never allowed it to stop him from doing whatever he wants to do. He learned how to ride a bike with one hand as well as how to drive his truck.
“Everything that I have done, I didn't want any modifications for me,” Smith said. “I would just figure out a way.
Smith’s motto is: “If you set your mind to it and have determination, you can do whatever you want to do.”
In addition to being a volunteer firefighter, Smith is also a correctional officer at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna, Illinois.
“There are times as soon as I get home we get called out, and I don't get any sleep and then I have to go to work tired,” Smith said. “I mean that's part of it.”
Smith said he doesn’t mind having to work two jobs, but he believes working at the fire department is the biggest priority of the two because a fire can be a matter of life or death.
“If I just save one person's life while I am on this fire department I'm happy,” Smith said. “I don't need anything else; I don't care about money or anything, as long as I can save someone's life or help some that's all I want.“