Missing a limb? These days amputees have access to all sorts of incredible high-tech prostheses. But Kyle Maynard, who was born without arms or legs, shows that disabled bodies don't need mechanical help to accomplish fantastic feats. The 25-year-old "congenital amputee" has played football, wrestled, and competed in martial arts - and now he's set his sights on mountaineering.
His goal? Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, on his stumps. Keep clicking to see Maynard in action as he prepares for the climb that he hopes will inspire others facing disabilities and other challenges...
Congenital amputation can be as small as a missing finger or toe. In Maynard's case, all four limbs were affected. When Maynard was born in 1986, he says his disability came as a complete shock to his parents who had no idea throughout the pregnancy that he would be born different.
Although Maynard is training to climb a mountain, his first true passion was wrestling. When he was 11 years old, he decided that he wanted to wrestle. He lost thirty-five matches in a row. But halfway through his second season, Maynard says on his website, he won his first match and "never looked back." In his senior year of high school, Maynard won a total of 36 varsity matches.
Here, Maynard and his good friend and team co-leader of "Mission Kilimanjaro," Dan Adams, prepare for a day hike at the Flatirons in Colorado. Adams is wrapping duct tape around Maynard's foot for protection.
Adams places a cut-up part of a mountain bike tire on Maynard's feet for additional protection.
Maynard and team plan to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2012.
Maynard decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a team of war veterans, some with traumatic injuries. The expedition aims to "demonstrate to our heroes in the veteran community and to young people with disabilities around the world that no obstacle is too great to be conquered with an active, no-barriers lifestyle and mindset," says the Mission Kilimanjaro website.
Maynard continues on the trail up the Flatirons.
Although Maynard doesn't know the exact cause of his congenital amputation, one possible reason is amniotic band syndrome - a congenital disorder that can result in limb amputation. It occurs when fetal parts (usually a limb or digits) are entrapped in fibrous amniotic bands while in the uterus. Amniotic band syndrome occurs in approximately one in every 1,200 live births.
Maynard continues his training with a two-day hike at Hermans Gulch in Colorado.
The first evening of the hike, Maynard heads to camp.
Maynard continues up the summit the following morning.
Maynard treks through a stream, testing out the water resistance of his mountain bike tires.
Maynard's goal is to help people overcome their perceived limitations. For this reason, "Mission Kilimanjaro" will also involve work with children with disabilities.
Here, Maynard uses hockey pants to help him slide down a hill.
Maynard has climbed other mountains and accomplished other amazing athletic feats, but he says that climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro "will be the hardest thing [he has] ever attempted."