Kyle was born without hands and feet. But this did not stop him from becoming a
football player, wrestler, mixed martial artist, mountain climber,
entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author.
He is popularly known as the first quadriplegic to climb or crawl to be
more precise, Mt. Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics.
His Early Life
He was born on March 24, 1986 in Suwanee, Georgia. He had a condition known as congenital amputation, wherein the tissues of his limbs did not develop fully, such that he was born without hands and feet.
The strength of his character was probably the result his parents’ love for him. When his condition was diagnosed before he was born, it was suggested to them that Kyle should be aborted. They strongly decided otherwise, and did not even once considered that as an option. His condition required greater parental care and he must be spoon-fed during every meal. When he was two years old, his father decided that Kyle should start eating on his own. His father reasoned wisely that his interest and welfare would be better served if he can learn to take care of himself and live life on his own.
Despite his handicaps, his family did their best
to give him a normal childhood. He was
able to forge close friendships and social relationships among the people of
his hometown who had gotten used to his condition. It was a big blow to him when they relocated to
a new place and he had to deal with new people who cannot help but notice, or
feel curious or uneasy about his condition.
He is a proficient wrestler but only because he
is more proficient in the practice of perseverance. Who has the grit to persevere through
thirty-five defeats before notching up a first victory? His superhuman perseverance is his
superpower. He eventually finished 12th
at the National High School Wrestling Championships in the 103-pound weight
His autobiography, “No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who
Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life,” became a New York Times Bestseller.
The US Jaycees named him one of the Top Ten
Outstanding Young Americans.
He was inducted into the Georgia State Wrestling
Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Oklahoma.
Other recognitions were conferred on him and he
had guested at the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live,
CBS The Early Show, etc.
Life is replete with examples of people like
Kyle who succeeded despite seemingly insurmountable odds. The Dutch patriot, William of Orange, stood
up and triumphed against the mighty Spanish empire despite the military
inferiority and disunity of the Dutch.
He reminded us that “It is not necessary to hope in order to
persevere.” Same with Joan of Arc who
led the French to victory against the British despite the fact that she was
only a fifteen year-old girl who had no education, no royal title, no
experience in leadership, nor military training. Before Muhammad Yunus, banks cannot lend to
the poor because the latter have no collateral and they are a great credit
risk. He showed us that we can, when he
established the Grameen Bank and the system of microfinance which provide
credit to the poor without collateral.
The world of sports used to believe that man is not physically capable
of running one mile within four minutes.
Along came Roger Bannister who showed us that we can. Lance Armstrong triumphed against a 2% odds
to defeat testicular cancer and won seven consecutive Tours de France.
Kyle Maynard’s example teaches us that our mind
is very powerful and can transcend the limitations of our body. We are struggling with our life when we are
shortchanging ourselves by not opting for, or giving up the goals that we
really want to achieve when the people around us are telling us that our goals
are impossible or unrealistic. His
example teaches us that we should not let our critics sabotage our happiness by
listening to their notions of what is possible and what is not. The great director, James Cameron, adds
further that you should “Don’t put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t bet against yourself.”
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