By KEVIN HOWELL
LEETONIA- Area middle and high school students will have an opportunity to see firsthand the effects a strong will power can have on their lives.
Leetonia schools with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center is hosting motivational speaker Kyle Maynard, born with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end at the knees. He will be featured in four different sessions Wednesday- two in the morning in the Salem High School auditorium and two in the afternoon in the South Range High School auditorium.
Despite his disability, the 26-year-old Maynard has competed in wrestling (2005 inductee of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame), weightlifting and mixed martial arts and most recently became the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. He has been featured on several national broadcasts including The Oprah Winfrey Show, ESPN's Sportscenter and ABC's 20/20. He is also the author of a New York Times bestseller, "No Excuses," and works with wounded soldiers on adapting their fitness regimens to meet their needs.
According to Kurt Jennings, a member of the Leetonia school board who has coordinated the event, Maynard has a lesson that is pertinent to all the students' lives.
"He's been through a lot of adversity and persevered," he said. "He has a message that is very powerful and changes lives."
Jennings said he first learned of Maynard through the testimony on a radio program of two injured U.S. soldiers returning from their call to duty, injured to the point where they had agreed to a suicide pact. As they awaited their flight back home, they watched Maynard's story on television and were so moved and motivated, they abandoned the suicide pact.
"I don't think the students will ever see someone like this again," Jennings said. "Kyle's physical disabilities are obvious, but his courage and determination rise far above that of the fully abled body population."
Jennings said he expects over 2,500 students to hear Maynard's story, with schools from all over Mahoning and Columbiana counties particpating. The event is being funded by the Leetonia schools, the Columbiana County ESC and private donations at a 90 percent reduced fee and no travel expenses.
For information about the event call the Leetonia High School at 330-427-2115. For information about Maynard visit kyle-maynard.com.
Kevin Howell can be reached at