Armless, Legless Man to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

PHOTO: Kyle Maynard, 25, who was born without arms and legs, is seen hiking in Colorado in this file photo.
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A congenital birth defect left 25-year-old Kyle Maynard a quadruple amputee, but that won't stop him from braving one of the toughest physical tests a person can face -- the nearly 20,000 foot climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Though Maynard's arms end at his elbows and his legs stop at his knees, he will use no assistive device to climb the highest peak in Africa. He'll make the climb using only pieces of bicycle tire taped to the ends of his limbs with heavy duty tape.

"This is something I've wanted to do for years, just because of the level of the challenge. The harder something is, the better the experience tends to be on the other end once you get through it," Maynard told ABCnews.com.

Maynard has traveled the world as a motivational speaker, competed as a mixed martial artist and a wrestler and owns his own cross fit gym in Suwanee, Ga., but he says that Kilimanjaro will be the hardest feat he's ever tried.

A main mission behind the climb will be to "send a message" to veterans who have been disabled and to disabled children around the world "to show that there are challenges in life, but it doesn't mean that you have to give up. You decide how you're going to draw meaning from the challenges in your life."

The climbing team for "Mission Kilimanjaro 2012" will consist of both "able-bodied" and "disabled" civilians and veterans who will set out on an approximately 16-day ascent in January. Before the climb they will be visiting the Mwereni Integrated School for the Blind in Moshi, Tanzania, where they will deliver $25,000 worth of donated medical supplies to the school.

Among the climbing team will be several veterans who live with physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder. Maynard explains that wounded veterans have made a "huge impact" on his life. He writes on the mission's website: "I am climbing for the people who may realize how much potential they have in their lives. I am climbing to pay tribute to my heroes -- the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much to preserve my freedom."



Maynard's father was in the Army and Maynard grew up with dreams of enlisting himself. "But that wasn't in the cards for me," he says. Instead, motivational speaking and raising awareness on behalf of veterans and children who are disabled, physically or mentally, has become his "opportunity to serve."

No Legs, No Problem

Maynard isn't the first disabled person to assent Mount Kilimanjaro -- in July, ABC News covered the story of Chris Waddell, a paraplegic man who documented his 2009 climb in a 2010 documentary "One Revolution." Waddell lost the use of his legs after a skiing accident two decades before his climb but continued to ski using a mono-ski and became the most decorated athletes in the U.S. paralympics.

Using a handcycle that allowed him to climb over the rough terrain using only the power of his upper body, Waddell told ABC News that he wanted to climb Kilimanjaro to change the perceptions of disabled people.

"One Revolution is the idea that something small, that one turn of the crank, can lead to something big," he told ABC News in July. "Hopefully, it can lead to something else, to this idea of change in how we see ourselves."

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