There is really nothing one cannot achieve, and the limitation lies only in our minds. This story proves just that.
Meet Kyle Maynard. The 33-year-old is a published author, an award-winning athlete, a motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur. He was also the first quadruple amputee to reach the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics.
Kyle shared his extraordinary journey with The Epoch Times. From the depths of despair to the triumph of snowy mountain peaks, Kyle’s story is of learning to live without excuses and never giving up.
How It All Began
Scott and Anita Maynard welcomed their baby son, Kyle, on March 24, 1986. Kyle was immediately diagnosed with congenital amputation. “My arms end around the elbows and legs end around the knees,” Kyle explains. “To this day, I don’t know what caused it.”
As a young child, Kyle’s supportive family ensured that his physical differences never held him back at home.
“I have no idea where I would be without my family,” Kyle says. “[M]y parents really played the ultimate Jedi mind trick on me, and we didn’t focus on the disability.”
Instead, Kyle’s parents allowed their son the autonomy he needed to figure things out for himself. “My parents saw the world wasn’t going to be tailored to my needs so they had to watch me fail, a lot, even at some of the easiest things like using a spoon to feed myself.”
However, as he reflects back, Kyle says: “I am so lucky that they made some hard decisions for my life when I was too young to make them for myself.”
At the age of 4, Kyle was encouraged to adapt to using prosthetics. “I used prosthetic arms and legs,” Kyle recalls, “but back in the 1980s and ’90s, the technology was pretty poor. They ended up disabling me more than helping, so I gave them up in Kindergarten.”
Growing up, Kyle says he “liked to do what any kid enjoys.” The young boy, quickly learning to compensate for his physical differences, played video games, read books, and developed a burgeoning love of all things sports-related.
Hitting Hard Times
At the age of 10, Kyle became overwhelmed by the limitations of his disability. He describes that time of life as “one of the darkest times for me.”
“I tried to end my life,” he says. “My family moved from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Atlanta, Georgia. In Fort Wayne everyone knew me as Kyle, but when I moved I was seen as disabled.”
Kyle was then plagued by questions from his subconscious. What type of future would he have? Would he ever live alone, have a “normal job,” or date somebody?
However, Kyle eventually found the solace he needed in sports. “Football, and being a part of that team when I was 11, is what helped pull me out of this,” he says, “because I found purpose and contribution to something larger than myself.”
Today, he has achieved champion wrestling status, is a CrossFit-certified instructor, a competitive MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, a world-record-setting weightlifter, and a mountaineer according to his website.
Kyle developed a personal philosophy: “No excuses.”
However, mountaineering, in particular, didn’t come without its challenges. Kyle started out with bath towels duct-taped to his arms and feet. But after several false starts, Kyle settled upon a carbon fiber custom shoe fit for the task ahead. The only way was up.
Scaling Mountains, Setting Records
It was in 2012 that Kyle’s mountain-climbing expeditions began.
Inspired by a short but grueling climb with a magnificent view from the summit, Kyle set his sights on Mount Kilimanjaro. Joined by a team of climbers, Kyle crawled the 19,340 feet to the peak on all fours without the help of a single prosthetic.
Kyle’s 10-day ascent eventually won him an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.
Four years later, Kyle traveled to Argentina to scale a second summit, Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America and a formidable 22,838 feet high.
“As a kid, my wheelchair would get stuck in thick grass or mulch,” Kyle reflects. “My friends would run off to play and I couldn’t follow them. Troubleshooting how to climb these mountains has shown me there is no place on this Earth I can’t go.”
Looking to the Future
Kyle has lived on his own in San Diego, California, since 2014. He spends most of his time traveling around the United States and to various international locations for speaking engagements. Around work, he also manages to make time for his friends and personal projects.
Kyle lives without many adaptations to his lifestyle or routines these days. He credits his self-sufficiency to his upbringing. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Know your limits, but never stop trying to break them,’” he says.
When asked what makes him happiest in life, Kyle replies: “Being a motivational speaker. Many people might not expect it of me; I can be pretty introverted. Some of my biggest passions are reading and having new experiences, such as philosophy and yoga.”
While most people can only fathom how brave and courageous Kyle is to overcome all difficulties in life, Kyle states: “I’m definitely not always positive.”
He also adds, “And any human that claims to be is probably hiding something big.” However, “continuing to learn, finding purpose, and surrounding myself with incredible friends has helped me get through some of the darker times.”
With Kyle having conquered two of the world’s most arduous mountain climbs, lived without excuses, been a vocal advocate for differently abled people, and been an author of New York Time’s best-selling book “No Excuses (2005),” Kyle’s story continues to inspire millions.
“I see my future and legacy in helping leave Mother Earth, and the people and creatures living here, better off than where I found it,” he says.