Successfully completing the grueling obstacle course of American Ninja Warrior would be hard to imagine for just about anyone, but it is nearly impossible to imagine for some suffering from Parkinson’s. On Monday, Jimmy Choi, a 41-year-old father of two who has been battling the disease for nearly 15 years, became an instant inspiration when he managed to make it through nearly three legs of the trying course.
Watch Choi’s incredible performance below:
Prior to competing, Choi explained that he was just 27 when he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s. He admitted to experiencing “a lot of anger and depression” after realizing he was no longer able to do simple tasks like tying his shoes or buttoning his shirt without assistance.
Choi’s life changed once again, however, in 2012, when he discovered that exercise helped manage his symptoms. He has since completed 13 marathons, “a bunch of” 100-mile bike rides, and several triathlons, all while raising money for Team Fox, the foundation founded by Michael J. Fox to fund Parkinson’s research. Choi said he has raised more than $100,000 to date, and he was competing on American Ninja Warrior as a member of the organization.
“My goal is to show everybody out there, no matter what they’re faced with, the hardest step is that first step,” Choi said. “Once you take that first step, the rest of it comes easily.”
Team Fox hero Jimmy Choi will be representing the Parkinson’s community on American Ninja Warrior at 8 p.m. / 7 p.m. CT on NBC.
Fox surprised Choi with a video message thanking the relentless warrior for shining an important light on the disease, while also showing the world what is possible for those who do not let limitations—physical or otherwise—keep them from achieving their dreams.
“Hey Jimmy, Team Fox has known for years that you’ve got the heart of a warrior. Now you’re going to show the world,” Fox said. “Life is an obstacle course and Parkinson’s adds its own obstacles along the way, but you handle it all with grace and determination. No matter what happens tonight, you are already an inspiration to your family, people with Parkinson’s, everyone watching, and me. We are all rooting for you to hit that buzzer. Show them how it’s done.”
Choi was able to make it through two legs of the obstacle course, before falling victim to the dreaded “broken pipes.” Despite not making it all the way to the end, social media and all those in attendance were amazed by what he managed to accomplish.
#AmericanNinjaWarrior Dear Jimmy Choi, You're a badass. You're an inspiration. Fight on ??
— rissadee (@rissadee) July 4, 2017
I'm in awe of those that overcome obstacles (of all types) and have positive spirits to match. Such inspirations. #AmericanNinjaWarrior
— Popcorn and Pringles (@CupcakeGirl1444) July 4, 2017
The show’s hosts, meanwhile, were quick to remind viewers that “winning” comes in many shapes and sizes.
“Every step is a victory, raising awareness for Parkinson’s disease,” they said. “You don’t always have to hit the buzzer to be a winner.”