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Article of Interest - Inspiration

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'No Excuses' Fuels Amputee's Success
Katie Oliveri, Lansing State Journal, October 9, 2005
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Born with a rare disorder called congenital amputation, Kyle Maynard - despite the absence of both his arms and legs - became one of the top high school wrestlers in Georgia.

"You may look at me and say, 'That sucks you have no arms or legs,' but that doesn't matter," said the University of Georgia sophomore. "There's nothing I'm not going to be able to achieve."

As part of Olivet College's Lecture and Symposium series, Maynard spoke to more than 500 area high school students and teachers and Olivet College students and faculty Wednesday.

He shared how his "no excuses" philosophy has helped him meet life's challenges and succeed.

About one in 2,000 newborns have congenital amputation, a condition where a baby is born with all limbs missing or part of a limb missing.

Maynard, who now wrestles for his university's club team, stands 3 feet tall.

"I just don't make excuses," the aspiring broadcast journalist told the crowd. "Instead, I make reasons why I'm going to succeed. It's impossible to fail as long as you never give up. When you learn from losses, that's when you improve."

"His message to never give up is so important for high school kids," said MaryJo Baker, a teacher at Waverly High School. "Just look at all that he's done."

Maynard's athletic success and inspiring story have made him a much sought-after public speaker, traveling the country and world.

"Everyone has obstacles to deal with that they have to overcome," Maynard said. "Mine are just a bit more noticeable physically."

He admits his wrestling technique - a style where he uses his head like a battering ram and limbs like clubs - took some time to perfect.

"I lost 35 matches before I won one," he said. "But when I won, I beat him by the mercy rule, by 15 points."

Tyler Wood, 15, a sophomore wrestler at Centreville High School who was born without his left arm, said Maynard's talk motivated him.

"He makes me want to work harder," said Tyler.

For Maynard, there are no limits, even off the wrestling mat. He eats on his own, criss-crossing his limbs to maneuver silverware and sandwiches. He drives a car, types 50 words per minute and has modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch.

"My dad said when I was younger, 'If he doesn't figure out how to eat on his own, he's going to starve,' " Maynard said. "And it's because of that tough love I am the way I am."

Maynard has joked about his condition. "My parents said to tell people that God made me this way," he said. "But after a while, I would tell people it was a tiger attack, just see their reaction."

So what's next for Maynard?

"I plan to open up fitness centers, I'm studying broadcasting news, ... and yes, I would also like to coach wrestling."


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