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
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
"Everyone has obstacles to deal with that they have to
overcome," Maynard said. "Mine are just a bit more noticeable
He admits his wrestling technique - a style where he uses his
head like a battering ram and limbs like clubs - took some time
"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
"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
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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