I met Kyle Maynard briefly when he came to his freshman orientation at my university ten years ago. I was running the program at the time and have met thousands of students over my twenty-plus years working in higher education. But Kyle remains one of the most memorable and remarkable students I have encountered. He wouldn’t remember me, but he is unforgettable.
I knew of him even before he arrived on campus. I had read his admissions application and knew he had lived a remarkable life already at such a young age. Kyle was born without full arms and legs. Yet he had an extraordinary record of accomplishment throughout high school, including success as a member of his school’s wrestling team.
College orientation is filled with self-conscious freshmen nervously finding their way. Awkward moments abound. However, I watched Kyle light up every room he entered that day. He was gregarious and confident and eager to put others at ease. He moved in and out of his wheelchair and was the center of attention at the orientation dinner party. This young man, born without arms and legs, seemed more able and mature than his peers.
I sat next to Kyle at one of the orientation lectures. The speaker was the head of food services, and he was explaining the biometric scanners that controlled access to the dining halls. He launched into his usual joke that with the hand scanners, students would always have access to enter the dining halls even without their ID card, and he’d never heard a student complain that he had “forgotten his hand”.
Kyle leaned over to me and said, “Well, I guess he’s never met me.” And then he smiled and laughed.
Kyle has gone on to become an author and speaker and life adventurer. I was reminded of him recently when Tim Ferriss shared this amazing video about Kyle’s attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Most of us cannot imagine living Kyle’s life. Watch this video and let the petty complaints we have and lame excuses we make get crushed by the remarkable life Kyle is living. Thanks for being awesome, Kyle!