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Stage 1 of the American Ninja Warrior finals kicked off Monday, with fan-favorite ninja Vance Walker, 16, looking to move on to the next round. Walker was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old, and his family wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to walk without the presence of leg braces.
Walker says that the incurable movement disorder, which affects roughly one in every 350 kids, still requires hours of stretching every day to keep his legs from cramping, and it still hinders him on some obstacles.
So when Walker reached the Jumping Spider challenge during his run on Monday — an obstacle that saw plenty of failure throughout the night — all eyes were on the 5-foot-5 high schooler.
Not only did he get through the Jumping Spider with relative ease, the Texas native, who now lives in Georgia, made it all the way to the end of the course.
If you pair his success from Monday and earlier in the season with the fact that he won American Ninja Warrior Junior in two consecutive years, Walker has officially never fallen on a Ninja Warrior obstacle. A streak that he will take into Stage 2 of the finals.
Viewers on Twitter loved Walker’s performance, calling him things like “next level,” “terrific” and “someone to watch.”
— Zach (@zproberts) August 31, 2021
WOW... watching #AmericanNinjaWarrior @USANinjaWarrior and saw Vance Walker, a teen with cerebal palsy complete the course. Now I've seen everything... 🤯 just a reminder to not let the hand you were dealt completely define you
— Jackie (@DreamyPopLover) August 31, 2021
Vance walker is someone to watch. His story is the definition of fall down 7 ...get up 8. Keep going Vance. #AmericanNinjaWarrior
— Jess (@runnerjess82) August 31, 2021
— Random Cerebrations (@MusingsEntropic) August 31, 2021
Vance Walker ran the course with CP and gets his buzzer! Damn ... AND he has a safety pass. #AmericanNinjaWarrior
— RickyAppleseed ☮🍎 (@RickyAppleseed) August 31, 2021
And with a safety pass still in his possession for Stage 2, which is basically a get-out-of-the-water free card in case he finally fails on an obstacle, the future is looking bright for the young competitor.
“We may be looking at our next Ninja Warrior, and he's just 16 years old,” host Matt Iseman said after Walker’s run. “This kid is good.”
Watch what happened when a Ninja Warrior contestant split his head open mid-run: