If you are a fan of the show American Ninja Warrior, be on the lookout for fellow Sarasotan Kyle McCreight, who will compete in the show's new season airing this summer.
McCreight is an occupational therapist at HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital and has always been into fitness and sports. But it wasn't until he adopted a three-legged dog, Tre, from Nate's Honor Rescue that he got the courage to keep training to be on the show.
It all started about five years ago, when McCreight's mother suggested he might like the show.
"I watched it and thought, 'I could do that,'" says McCreight. "I've played sports all my life and work out frequently. I liked the idea of a challenge."
McCreight found gyms like LIVE Training Center in Palmetto and The Jungle Gym in Pinellas County that use the same equipment as the show. There, he's met other Ninja Warrior fans who train and compete nationally. McCreight's training became more intense and consistent after going through a divorce two years ago, around the same time he adopted Tre.
"He was only four months old when I adopted him," says McCreight. "They had him in the back of the shelter. He arrived malnourished, had patchy fur and had his back leg amputated as a result of a birth defect." The staff told McCreight the dog was really sweet.
"We sat in the grass and played for 45 minutes that day," says McCreight. "I just knew that I could help him."
McCreight used his occupational therapy skills to nurse Tre back to health. He found a harness to lift Tre off the ground, allowing him to try to walk and swim. After a few months and another surgery on his other back leg, Tre began to walk. Now, he's running and chasing squirrels like any other pup. His strength and resilience inspired McCreight to finally get on TV.
"He'll watch me train in the backyard with the homemade obstacle course my dad and I made," says McCreight. "We also got a professional course maker from New Smyrna Beach to come out and help." Neighbors will come watch McCreight swing on monkey bars, climb 20-foot ropes and climb walls.
The first round of the competition begins Monday, March 21, in San Antonio, Texas. A second round takes place in April and the finals will be held in Las Vegas in May. The show will air on NBC in the summer. McCreight's dad (who also has a three-legged dog, Brody) and Tre will be traveling with McCreight. When asked if he's nervous, McCreight says he's been training so long that the course will feel like any other day.
McCreight also works with the Never Say Never Foundation, which supports child amputees and those with limb differences. Once a year, the foundation hosts a four-day outdoor camp in Clearwater, where 45 children and their families are invited from across the country for free.
"I attended the Pirate Camp last fall," says McCreight. "They invited me out to teach kids to run an obstacle course, American Ninja Warrior-style. Tre was also there, playing with the kids."
McCreight sells T-shirts and other merchandise to donate funds to the Never Say Never Foundation. He is hoping to donate proceeds from the show to the foundation, and shout them out on TV so people will become more aware of the cause. Some of the money will go toward fitting children for custom running blade prosthetics.
"What I love about this sport is that there's always a new way to challenge yourself and connect with others," says McCreight. "You can run the standard course, or switch things up and time yourself to become more efficient. I am just hooked."
Catch McCreight on season 14 of American Ninja Warrior on NBC in May.