Findlay native, Jim Steffen, competed on the Sixth Season of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and the nation got to know him when his impressive attempt at the course aired on June 9. For those who have not seen the show, American Ninja Warrior is an obstacle course competition requiring incredible strength, stamina and speed. Jim used his television air time to bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis, a rare disease that his youngest daughter, Maddie, was born with. Jim owns a local gym, XT fitness, and speaks to schools and other organizations about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. He lives in Findlay with his wife of twelve years, Dyan, and their four children; Ellie (10), Jimmy (9), Lexie (5) and Maddie (almost 2). Below, he discusses two of his passions, fitness and helping his daughter, Maddie.
What inspires you to be an advocate for children and educate them on the importance of a healthy lifestyle?
It’s tough seeing a kid lacking confidence because they can’t do something physically, and it is amazing when you see the same kid start to do some of those things and get stronger and more confident. We’ve had kids with disabilities, self-esteem issues, bullying problems, etc., and when they gain confidence at the gym it carries over to other areas. We have a childhood obesity epidemic in this country, so I really enjoy talking to kids at schools about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
What motivated you to try out for American Ninja Warrior?
Two years ago on a family vacation we were watching the show together. We were all really into it and, for years, we’ve made obstacle courses for our kids in the backyard. It just seemed to be a natural fit for everything I do.
You brought awareness to Cystic Fibrosis on National Television and spoke about your experience with your daughter, Maddie. Can you describe a day in the life of caring for a child with CF?
Maddie does breathing treatments twice a day (more often if she’s sick) and also uses a vest twice a day for 30 minutes each time, which breaks up the mucous in her airways. She takes enzymes every time she eats to help her digest food and eats a high fat, high calorie diet due to malabsorption issues common in CF. As she gets older, Maddie will take upwards of 45 pills a day. It’s a spectrum disease and every patient is different. You can find more info at cff.org
How do you hope to make an impact in awareness and research efforts for CF?
We would like more people to know about this disease and the challenges CFers face. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an amazing resource for the families with CF and they have made a tremendous impact with getting new medicines developed to treat CF. So, if telling our story leads someone to send a donation to CFF, say a prayer for a cure, or just understand Maddie’s experience we think that’s great.
Will you be trying out for the seventh season of American Ninja Warrior?