Have ‘No Excuses’
Congenital Amputee, Motivational Speaker Talks To Turner Ashby Students
You can call him a mixed martial arts fighter, weight-lifting record holder, an accomplished wrestler and a climber of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.
Taken with the fact that the Atlanta resident is a congenital amputee — meaning he was born with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end at the knees — the taxing athletic feats are even more astounding.
“It shows me you can do more,” said Jule Hedwig, 17, an exchange student at Turner Ashby High School who attended an assembly featuring Maynard Wednesday morning at the school. “You just have to believe in yourself.”
The motivational speech Maynard gave was part of James Madison University’s Disability Awareness Week. He also spoke at JMU Tuesday night and participated in a sports showcase at the university.
During his speech Wednesday, Maynard drove home the point that he so aptly demonstrates through his own accomplishments: It may take hard work, but you can overcome setbacks to achieve your goals.
“We have to go through a lot of failures to get there,” he said. “Every one of us has a challenge. … Find your why, find your truth and realize there is no good excuse not to go after it.”
Among Maynard’s other accomplishments are awards from GNC and ESPN for being the world’s strongest teen and the best athlete with a disability, respectively, and he holds a space in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He also has been recognized for his work as a role model and motivational speaker and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.
But before those successes, Maynard started small, learning tasks that become second nature for able-bodied people, like putting on socks or using a spoon.
With practice, Maynard can now complete everyday tasks with ease, including driving a car and typing 50 to 60 words per minute.
“It does not matter who you are, where you came from, how much money your family has. … The biggest thing is what we decide,” he said. “If we want something bad enough and we’re willing to go after it, there’s nothing we’re not capable of.”
Even though he seems fearless, Maynard still has times he must be reminded to live by the message of his own New York Times best-selling book, “No Excuses.”
“Think about one excuse you’re making. What would happen if you just changed that one thing?” Maynard asked. “[Think], today that excuse dies in my seat. I’m going to walk out these doors today and it’s no longer going to control and affect my life.”
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org