Kyle Maynard: Living Large and Going Strong

Experiencing life challenges can be daunting for most, but there are those rare individuals who can transform difficulty into true inspiration. One such person is Kyle Maynard who was born with congenital amputation that left him as a quadruple amputee. Despite what could have been a life-crushing disability, he has instead valiantly chosen to pursue an extraordinary life, oftentimes without the use of prosthetics. Perhaps it is through sheer will power or simply following his dream, or both, he’s turned his disability into his greatest asset. He continues to live a life much fuller than most of us, filled with achievement, and is a motivational force for others to follow.

It’s All About Attitude

Growing up, Maynard was very athletic as a wrestler, weight lifter, football player, and jiu-jitsu martial artist. More recently, he took up mountain climbing. More than a rigorous undertaking, mountain climbing presented him with a whole new set of challenges that would ensure his defeat. But his slow and persistent approach helped him achieve lofty heights and a sense of personal exhilaration.

How many can say they’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in their lifetime – and do it without the aid of prosthetics? In 2012, Maynard did just that. He completed the 19,340-foot ascent in 10 days completely bearcrawl style. Hats off to this incredible feat that landed him recognition as the first quadriplegic to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and his second ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.

But it wasn’t to climb for climbing sake, it was for a far greater cause. And that pretty much defines Maynard. He will pursue just about any physical challenge to draw attention to those less fortunate who are hampered by their physical condition. Be it to raise $25,000 in donations for medical supplies for a school for the blind in Moshi, Tanzania or to bring awareness to wounded American veterans suffering with conditions such as shrapnel wounds, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury.

As if Mount Kilimanjaro wasn’t epic enough, he took on Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, rising to 22,838 feet. He conquered that too. And why does he do it? He explains in CNN’s Great Big Story, “I want to go out there and have my life mean something.”

Man on a Mission

Maynard is determined and his can-do attitude inspires a following that spans the globe. It’s no wonder, along with his amazing feats are his pearls of wisdom. In one of his blog posts he states, “And no matter what your current climb is — in your business, relationships, health, finances, jiu-jitsu, etc. — the journey to the top is ALWAYS going to have moments where it sucks, where it stalls, where we wish we were somewhere else… anywhere else.”

He continues, “Yet, I believe it’s precisely because of those moments being what they are that will make everything else worth the struggle. So hang in there. Keep on moving. Focus on the next step in front of you. Then when that’s done, the next step after that. Eventually, you will look back and hardly believe how far you’ve been able to come.”

Not only does Maynard have a long list of athletic achievements, but he is also an entrepreneur as a gym owner, and at the age of 19 authored the best-selling book “No Excuses” about how he became a champion in wrestling and in life.

Sharing His Story

Maynard never expected to be a motivational speaker, but by the time he was 30 he had spoken in over 900 events and was keynote speaker in countries all over the world. His message is based on his book and he delivers it to audiences in Fortune 500 companies, schools, universities, events, and to his beloved armed forces. His hope is for his message to touch the heart of each listener so that they “can see themselves overcoming whatever stands in their way.”

He has received many accolades from personalities such as Oprah Winfrey who calls him “one of the most inspiring young men you will ever hear about.” And then there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger saying he’s “the real deal.”

Recognition seems to follow Maynard wherever he goes. He’s had many guest appearances on notable television shows such as Good Morning America, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and ABC’s 20/20. He’s also been featured in ESPN’s Sportscenter, HBO’s Real Sports, and in countless other media outlets.

In 2010, ESPN Films and SnagFilms produced the documentary, “A Fighting Chance” detailing Maynard’s life and his first Mixed Martial Arts cage fight. The film is currently available on Netflix with proceeds benefitting injured veterans.

Maynard continues to pursue incredible achievements and is prolific with meaningful insights on life. His message rings clearly, “Every person on the planet has a disability – not just those we can see. And we all choose whether we allow our lives to be defined by them or not.”

To learn more about this amazing man and important life lessons, visit his website.

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