Once I restarted my swing and made my final reach, I knew all I had to do was make that last swing. This is when Mr. PD showed up though. Jimmy Choi
I am not a fan of Reality TV. The closest I came was when my daughter was designing clothes and we watched Project Runway together for several years. At some point, we both became bored with it and stopped watching. Every season, every episode followed the same formula. I have watched Top Chef a few times, mostly on airplanes when there is nothing else of interest, and guess what, it followed the same exact formula, just substituting chefs for fashion designers. Nothing original in these shows. Is there a difference between “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent”? I could not tell you, except that Simon Cowell seems to be everywhere.
Tonite, I watched American Ninja Warrior (ANW) for the first time because of Jimmy Choi. If not for him, I probably would have avoided it completely. I am sure that so many others with Parkinson’s watched for the first time, too. Jimmy Choi’s second appearance on ANW was a reason for us to come together and celebrate.
So who is Jimmy Choi? An inspiring father of two who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 27. One day he came across a magazine article about a person with PD who was running a marathon. That article motivated Jimmy, who by that time had gained significant weight and was walking with a cane, to run a 5K race. Then a 10K race, 1/2 marathon and eventually full marathons. It literally changed his life. He lost weight and his PD symptoms became less severe. Jimmy became an inspiring model of the positive benefits of exercise for a person with PD. All of this led him to become a spokesperson for the Michael J Fox Foundation.
Tonight, he is appearing for the second time on American Ninja Warrior in an effort to spotlight the need for a cure for Parkinson’s. Last season he made it to the regional trials in Kansas City, but fell in the middle of the course and could not complete it. Jimmy was a fan favorite, and was brought back by ANW to try again this year.
We watched, cheering him on through the first two obstacles, watching his tremor become more visible as he became more stressed by the tasks at hand. At the end of the third obstacle, it became clear that his tremor and weakend grasp were going to win this time. As he said “Once I restarted my swing and made my final reach, I knew all I had to do was make that last swing. This is when Mr. PD showed up though.” Jimmy fell into the water as he tried so hard to reach that last ring. We felt like we were falling into the water with him.
The thing that most impressed me was how hard Jimmy worked, inspite of having PD, to get to this point. He had a mission – to stop making excuses and take control of his life when things were not going well. As he reached eached milestone, 5k, 10k, etc, he set new goals. He was not content with staying in one place. He had to keep working harder and harder, eventually becoming our American Ninja PD Warrior.
Jimmy did not fail last night. He inspired so many others watching him to get moving, to improve their lives while living with Parkinson’s. And for that, we thank you Jimmy.