Bluefield University in the News


by | May 8, 2010

Designed to promote the art of public speaking in a world of electronic communication, the BC High School Speech Contest showcased competitive speeches, four to six minutes in length, on the topic of overcoming challenges. In addition to developing strong communication skills, the students earned cash prizes and scholarships.

Monica McAfee of Rural Retreat, Virginia, earned first place and the grand prize of a $2,000 Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Scholarship to attend BC and $200 in cash. A rising senior at George Wythe High School, she spoke about the challenge of “being shy” and “being the new girl in school.”

Amber Fullen of Princeton, West Virginia, won second place and a $1,000 Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Scholarship and $100 cash. A rising junior at Princeton Senior High School, Fulton spoke about “stage fright.”

Brooke Laxton of Lashmeet, West Virginia, won third place and a $500 Wampler Caudill Scholarship and $50 cash. She is a rising senior at Pikeview High School, who spoke about “a difficult childhood,” which included being homeless for a short time.

Three additional students won honorable mention awards, which included a $20 cash prize: Zain Mohiuddin of Bluefield, Virginia, (Graham High School), Ashley Payton of Princeton, West Virginia (Princeton Senior High School), and David Somerville of Bluefield, Virginia (Graham High School).

Building on the event theme of overcoming challenges, Maynard, a congenital amputee, shared his life’s story with the contestants and the more than 200 other enthusiasts gathered on campus to hear Maynard speak.

Despite being born with no forearms and shortened legs, Maynard won numerous wrestling championships and laid claim to world records in weightlifting’s modified bench press. As a result of his intense will, caring family, and strong Christian faith, he won an ESPY Award as the Best Athlete with a Disability and earned a President’s Award for the Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

“Everybody has something they struggle with,” said Maynard, “whether it’s a challenge, a limitation, a character issue, or a physical disability. “But, the first step in overcoming the challenge is accepting it, maybe even loving it. Once you begin to see your adversity as an opportunity to grow or to become a better person, then you begin to love it.”

Maynard, who wrote a New York Times best-selling book, titled “No Excuses,” shared stories from his childhood with the BC crowd. He spoke of how often he experienced fear, anxiety, and embarrassment by allowing other people’s perceptions to determine who he was.

“I remember feeling embarrassed when the other kids would look at me,” said Maynard about his early years of wearing artificial limbs. “I could see the doubt in their eyes, but then I realized how we all deal with similar fears and anxieties, and I became determined not to allow other people to put limits on me. I knew in my heart I could do great things, so it didn’t matter what other people thought of me. What matters is what’s in your heart.”

With that kind of determination, Maynard earned the unofficial title of World’s Strongest Teen and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with a Medal of Courage. With basically two elbows he can type up to 50 words a minute, eat and write without any adaptations, and drive a vehicle that has little modification. In addition to his visit to Bluefield College’s High School Speech Contest, he has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live,

ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, HBO Real Sports, Spike TV, and as a cover story in USA Today.

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