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Meet Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Kyle Maynard

Photo credit: kyle-maynard.com

Kyle Maynard on a grass field in front of a mountain.

He’s an introvert with his own spotlight — one he's had since childhood.

Born with a condition that shortened all his limbs, many of Kyle Maynard’s endeavors garner attention and provide unique challenges. And he adapts.

“I had to adapt my personality to be OK with being in the spotlight,” he says. He makes other adaptations — when he steps in the gym or on a trail. His family never treated him differently. They didn’t coddle him. He just had to find ways make life work. And Maynard’s life is jam packed.

“I did (Mount) Kilimanjaro in 2012. And Aconcagua this year. It can be dangerous,” he said alluding to injuries and deaths climbers sustain on those mountains, "but that doesn’t mean we should be limited based on circumstances.”

Kyle Maynard's Story On ESPN

Mountaineering aside, Maynard's other athletic achievements include weight lifting records, wrestling, earning a jiu jitsu purple belt, and completing a mixed martial arts fight.

“It’s an amazing experience,” Maynard recalls of the match. “When they closed the cage door behind me, it was like, 'here it is.’"

But getting the chance to get in the cage required more than just training. An extensive process with the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, involving him being twice denied a license to fight, meant he had to adapt yet again. And this fight was perhaps his most public venture. “People said I’d get my skull kicked in,” he said. (You can see more about the fight here.) He had to cross state lines just to get the chance. Alabama's athletic commission granted him a license to fight.

“I wasn’t able to execute my game plan of taking him down and choking him,” Maynard said. But he still celebrated the achievement.

Locally and across the country, Maynard is heavily invested in veterans and the military as well. He helps with pointers on adaptive physical training for those who’ve been injured during deployments. But he’s not just a trainer. He cares about them deeply; they build strong relationships.

After winning the nomination for KPBS’ Disability Month Local Hero, Maynard — who first visited San Diego 10 years ago — said, “I feel like I made it as a San Diegan."

Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Kyle Maynard

See past Disability Awareness Month honorees here.

Meet fellow 2016 honoree Margarita Elizondo.

Questions or comments on this story can be directed to Nate John at njohn@kpbs.org.

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