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Speaker inspires students at North

Says there 'aren't any good excuses'

POSTED: August 9, 2012 7:30 p.m.
Jennifer Sami/

Kyle Maynard, author and motivational speaker, addressed North Forsyth High School students Thursday.

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North Forsyth High students were greeted by a special guest on the first day of the new school year.

Kyle Maynard, an author and motivational speaker, addressed each of the school’s grade levels Thursday morning.

Maynard, a 2004 graduate of Collins Hill High School in neighboring Gwinnett County, was born with arms that end at the elbows and legs ending near his knees.

Despite his condition, Maynard became an accomplished athlete, competing in football, weightlifting, wrestling and mixed martial arts.

Most recently, he became the first man to hike on all fours to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Maynard is also a best-selling author of the book “No Excuses.” That phrase was also the theme of his talk with North Forsyth students Thursday.

“My message is that there aren’t any good excuses,” he told the students. “I believe strongly that the only time we grow as a human being is when we take on something outside our comfort zone.”

Maynard related a number of stories about experiences throughout this life, including playing football as a little boy and later wrestling at Collins Hill.

He said many people throughout his life, including his parents, grandparents and coaches, never treated him differently than others, which helped him excel.

“I have this seemingly obvious disability,” he said. “But it’s not going to affect my relationship with you.”

He went to say that “everyone has disabilities,” most of which aren’t as noticeable as his.

Maynard said most of them come from insecurities people have about themselves, often as a result of criticism from others.

“The only thing that matters is what we end up deciding to believe about ourselves and not what anyone else tells us,” he said.

He encouraged the students to believe in themselves even in difficult times. He noted that when he was hiking to the top of Kilimanjaro, he was in extreme pain.

“From walking on all fours, my arms and legs began to swell,” he said. “The pain was so bad that my entire body was screaming for me to quit.”

But he had a definite goal that he knew he had to complete.

“I believe when we have that sense of purpose, we can get through anything,” he said.

Students Josh Allen and Madison Marvin found Maynard’s talk inspiring.

“Going into our senior year and knowing we’re about to go off to college, it makes things really real for us,” Marvin said.

Added Allen: “We never had anything that powerful on the first day of school before, and I think [school leaders] should do that more often.”

As a wrestler and football player, Allen said he was especially moved.

“I didn’t know he wrestled, so that was pretty cool,” he said. “He was actually really enlightening.”

Added Marvin: “To see how much he’s accomplished by not letting anything get to him, it’s really great.”

Maynard, who said he speaks at more than 100 events a year, noted that talking to students is his “biggest passion.”

“More than anything else, I love it because you just never know who’s in a spot where they might need to hear it,” he said.

 

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