FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — “There are no excuses,” Kyle Maynard told spellbound students on their first day back at North Forsyth High School. “We make excuses all the time.”
Maynard, the first quadruple amputee to reach the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania without assistance, was invited to motivate students back from summer break on Thursday, Aug. 9.
“When I get to speak to young kids is pretty special to me,” Maynard said afterwards. “It’s much more special to me than the mountains. This is my biggest passion.”
Maynard, 26, is the owner of No Excuses Crossfit gym in Suwanee, where he lives. He has spoken to crowds in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa and has written a memoir (he can type 50 words per minute), “No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.”
“It’s gotten to be a fun journey,” Maynard said. “It all started here in Georgia.”
Maynard, who has never asked for special treatment, said his goal was to give students something they could keep with them throughout the rest of the school year and beyond.
“There are many takeaways, but the foundation is to believe in yourselves,” Maynard said. “No matter what circumstances, no matter what happened in my life, you’ll get through this. I want them to try to use my story as a metaphor for them.”
Jacob Bailey, a freshman, who will be playing quarterback for the junior varsity team this year, said Maynard was inspiring because he had accomplished all he’d accomplished without the use of his arms and legs.
“It really inspires me,” Bailey said.
Freshman Jamie Hunt said Maynard’s message was motivational.
“I think that everybody has their limitations and their excuses,” Hunt said. “I think everyone could use what he spoke about.”
Maynard, a congenital amputee born with arms that end at his elbows and legs that end at his knees, recently won the ESPYS award for the second time, recognized as the best male athlete with a disability.
During Maynard’s talk, students sat attentively at the gymnasium. They watched an introduction video that showed the speaker on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live.”
“He is one of the most inspiring young men you will ever hear about,” Oprah Winfrey says on her show featuring Maynard.
Sports are a big part of Maynard’s life and it was a treat for North Forsyth’s Athletic Director Nathan Turner to have such a transformative figure available to speak to students.
Turner said planning started in February to bring someone who would make a positive and motivational first day. Assistant Principal Randall Herrin suggested asking Maynard to come speak to students. And although Maynard has a high demand speaking schedule throughout the U.S., they were able to bring him to North Forsyth.
“Being a high school athletic director, everybody in the state knows about Kyle Maynard, his high school wrestling, his hike of Mount Kilimanjaro and [mixed martial arts],” Turner said. “The big thing about Kyle is that he’s always made the comment, ‘no excuses,’ and he’s a positive motivator.”
North Forsyth HS students in all grade levels, about 2.200, had the opportunity to hear Maynard speak and hopefully set the tone for the rest of the school year.
“The first time I saw [Kilimanjaro], I was scared out of my mind,” Maynard said. “It’s like you here on your first day of school.”
For more about Maynard, visit www.kyle-maynard.com.