Nikkolas is a self-proclaimed super fan of the show, American Ninja Warrior, who knows what takes to overcome obstacles both on the course and in his own daily life.
“He’s had nearly 60 surgeries for his spina bifida and orthopedic and brain issues,” said his mom, Colette. “It’s scary because Nikkolas could have serious complications from any of these procedures, but he doesn’t let anything stop him. He perseveres.”
One reason Nikkolas enjoys American Ninja Warrior so much is because he can relate to the stories of the “ninjas” or athletic competitors who take on the obstacles.
“Some of the ninjas started out with nothing and they have been through many hardships in their lives, so they give me determination to never give up and make me want to train harder,” said Nikkolas, who receives occupational, speech and physical therapy several times a week for his multiple disorders.
“He’s been watching the show since it started and has all the episodes recorded. He recognizes every ninja and obstacle, so he knows even if I delete one episode,” said Colette, with a laugh.
Nikkolas was receiving therapy at his clinic when his physician, Tracey Kurtzman, referred him for a wish.
“It was a huge shock,” said Nikkolas. “My wish was to see American Ninja Warrior in person, but I didn’t know if that would actually be possible.”
One day, his volunteer wish granters surprised him with a special gift – a puzzle that, once solved, would reveal the destination of his wish.
“Nikkolas put it together and it was a picture of Las Vegas, where the American Ninja Warrior national championship takes place,” said Colette. “Our wish granters, Dave and Brittney, told us we were leaving in a week to see the filming of the season finale and Nikkolas’ face lit up like I’ve never seen.”
When Nikkolas and his family arrived on set, he was able to meet American Ninja Warrior host, Matt Iseman, and ninjas from around the world.
“It was amazing! I met ninjas from the United States, Australia and Europe and we got to go right up front to watch everyone compete.” said Nikkolas. “I was familiar with some of the obstacles, but my favorite round was stage three, where they modified some of the obstacles and added new ones I’d never seen.”
“We arrived at 7 p.m. and stayed until 5 in the morning but Nikkolas never felt tired. He had more energy than any of us!” Colette said.
Nikkolas even had the chance to see each of the stages up close and sit at the bottom of his favorite obstacle, the warped wall!
“When I sat there on the wall, I thought about everything I’ve accomplished to get here, and it felt like nothing else existed,” Nikkolas said.
At the end of the competition, the ninjas were all standing together for a picture when they invited Nikkolas to join them – a symbolic moment that left Colette in awe.
“I can’t begin to describe the pure joy I felt when I watched the ninjas stand together and embrace Nikkolas. They made sure he was up there with them.”
“My son went to meet the athletes he’s looked up to for so many years, but I think his story inspires them, too,” Colette continued. “Now he realizes that he can be an inspiration to others and this is something that will stay with him forever.”
Since his wish, Nikkolas has started school at the University of Arizona and he’s part of an internship program where he is learning life skills that will help him be a productive member of society.
“My wish opened a new door for me and impacted me in such a positive way. I see that so many things are possible for me now,” said Nikkolas, who someday hopes to become a part of the show that changed his life so much.
Colette has also seen big changes in Nikkolas and in his mindset.
“I’ve seen him work harder in everything he does,” she continued. “Our wish granters have become family to us because of everything they did for Nikkolas and he’s kept his promise to the ninjas to keep fighting and to never give up.”