By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star // Buy this photo;  Kyle Maynard, who was born with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end at the knees, poses for a group picture with the children of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. He was there to inspire the children to dream. He also autographed his book “No Excuses.”

Speaker inspires with message of 'No Excuses'

Man brings positive energy to Boys & Girls Clubs

March 15, 2014 Ventura County Star

Reflecting on his latest feat of crawling to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Kyle Maynard said he never could have done it alone.

“It’s a big deal having people believe in you and encourage you,” said Maynard, 27, who was born with congenital amputation, a condition that left him with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end near the knees.

“The greatest gift ... is to be in a supportive environment,” said Maynard, of San Diego. “My parents had no idea I was going to be born any different. But they made the decision ... that they weren’t going to treat me different from any other child.”

Combining positive reinforcement and tenacity to reap success was the message behind Maynard’s keynote speech at the 12th annual Great Futures for Kids Breakfast at the Residence Inn by Marriott River Ridge in Oxnard.

Presented by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, Thursday’s campaign breakfast was a fundraiser to benefit club programs that each year serve more than 9,000 youths, between 6 and 18 years old, in 18 locations.

“Just come out to one of our clubhouses and see all the amazing things that they do and the kids we affect,” Sean Leonard, president of the board of directors, told the audience.

Leonard presented a short film about the clubs to a room of dignitaries and business leaders.

“The success stories we have just goes to show that if you build assets in kids and get caring adults around them, they can become successful,” Tim Blaylock, the club’s top director, said in the video.

After the film, Anna Heath, the 2014 Youth of the Year, told the audience how the club stepped up when a tragedy struck her home.

“After a major argument between my parents, child protective services came and took me and my younger siblings and separated us into three different foster homes,” recalled the student at Pacifica High. “As I struggled ... to get healthy and be strong for my siblings, the club became my home and my family.”

Later in the day, Maynard went to an Oxnard club and spoke to the children about his life.

For Maynard, climbing Kilimanjaro — the highest mountain in Africa — followed other feats including winning 36 varsity wrestling matches during his senior year in high school and earning GNC’s “World’s Strongest Teen” by bench pressing 23 repetitions of 240 pounds.

Today, the motivational speaker lives independently, drives a Dodge Durango, uses a double-edged straight razor and types 60 words a minute. He also owns a gym, No Excuses Cross Fit, in Suwanee, Ga.

“It all started with learning to pick up a spoon or fork and drop it a thousand times before I figured it out,” Maynard told the audience.

He thanked his parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones for their support.

“The greatest single impact on our lives is our friends and our surroundings,” Maynard said. “Kids need to be in an environment where they are uplifted ... where they don’t hear that victim mentality. For me, growing up, it wasn’t about the disability. It was about capabilities and possibilities.”

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