ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — Kyle Maynard of Buford, Ga., learned early how to overcome adversity to find triumph.
Born with congenital amputation — a condition in which a child is born without limbs due to a lack of blood flow to extremities that left him without arms below the elbow or legs below the knee — he always sought to prove to himself and others that his disabilities were not a limitation.
Now 25, the results of his philosophy have earned him a lifetime of accomplishments. He is not simply a successful athlete for someone with his disabilities — he is a successful athlete in comparison to any other athlete out there.
And now, he is about to push himself even higher. Next January, he will attempt to be the first quadruple amputee ever to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, WGCL-TV reports.
“Life is all about just going out and doing something. If you’ve got a dream, a vision, it’s on you to make something happen,” said Maynard, who was recovering after a grueling two-day training exercise when he spoke with CBS Atlanta. “There is too much to experience (in life) to pass it up.”
It is in that way especially that Mission Kilimanjaro is a perfect fit for Maynard.
The initiative was started in 2010 by those who wished to raise awareness for wounded soldiers by changing public perception of them and to give the soldiers themselves a renewed sense of personal pride and community through both the arduous physical task itself and the tangential philanthropic work involved in the overall mission.
“(My good friend) Dan Adams approached me about the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro … and I had a dream of climbing it for awhile,” Maynard said. “I wanted to go carry the message to others, to veterans and kids with disabilities, that … everybody’s got some mountain to climb, some goal they want to accomplish. I want to prove that it’s possible.”
Mount Kilimanjaro reaches a dizzying 19,341 feet above sea level at its highest point. It is the highest mountain in all of Africa, and among the highest in the entire world.
Instead of making use of prosthetics or other lifting equipment to tackle the monstrous land mass, he will be crawling up the mountain on all fours with mountain bike tires on his limbs secured with gorilla tape.
For Maynard, the challenge is definitely exciting, but there are other aspects to this journey that appeal to him more.
“On a personal level, (I’m looking forward to) being on a mountain, surrounded by my heroes on a mountain in Africa … and bringing my dream to life,” he said. “But the purpose is to make an impact on two groups (veterans and children with disabilities) that have really had a huge impact on my life.”
Added Maynard: “If I can change the life of one person, who comes back and says (to me) that they’re capable, and that life is worth living … that to me is absolutely the most important thing.”