Why People Are So Inspired By This Recent 'American Ninja Warrior' Contestant

"Once you take that first step, the rest of it comes easy."

Monday night's episode of NBC's American Ninja Warrior featured a contestant whose obstacle course run and personal story inspired viewers.

Jimmy Choi, a 41-year-old tech consultant from Illinois, was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease when he was 27. Parkinson's is a chronic movement disorder affecting as many as 1 million people in the United States. According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, only about 4 percent are diagnosed before age 50.

Before Choi took on the Kansas City qualifiers, he shared that he had initially faced his diagnosis with "a lot of anger and depression." In 2012, however, he discovered the power of exercise to help him manage the disease. He has since competed in marathons, bike rides, and triathlons, raising more than $100,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


"My goal is to go out there and 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 easy."

Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's at age 29, shared a message with Choi before he took on the challenge. "Life is an obstacle course, and Parkinson's adds its own hurdles along the way," Fox said, "but you handle it all with grace and determination."

Choi revealed on the Michael J. Fox Foundation's Twitter that the message was a total surprise to him and made him emotional. Fox shared that he's inspired by Choi, and so did several people on Twitter, including Ninja Warrior host Akbar Gbajabiamila.

As for Choi's run, he had a strong showing through the first part of the course, but eventually fell off the broken pipes and was disqualified. 

He's not giving up just yet, however. Choi tweeted after the show that he plans to try again next year, making him even more inspiring.

Hear Choi's story and watch him give it his all in the video below:


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