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home : news : local news August 21, 2017

8/4/2017 11:53:00 PM
Ninja Warrior star meets biggest fan
Pair share Alopecia diagnosis
Times photo by Sydney AllenAmerican Ninja Warrior star Kevin Bull, left, high fives 7-year-old Chase Givens.
Times photo by Sydney Allen

American Ninja Warrior star Kevin Bull, left, high fives 7-year-old Chase Givens.
By Sydney Allen

Kevin Bull, 31, season six star, a contestant from the television show American Ninja Warrior arrived in Noblesville last week to an American Ninja Warrior themed pizza party at the Indy Warrior fitness and obstacle training course.

But Bull didn't show up just to try out the impressive obstacles. Bull, who has Alopecia, a rare autoimmune disease that causes people to lose their hair in early childhood, came to support one of his biggest fans, 7-year-old Chase Givens who also has Alopecia.

Many adrenaline junkies are familiar with American Ninja Warrior, which features people going through a seemingly impossible obstacle course: pulling themselves up inverted stairs, jumping from trampolines to platforms high in the air, Dodging through swinging spikes - typical ninja stuff. Kris Devereaux and her husband Andy Smith aimed to recreate the adventure with their Indy Warrior facility, housed in the Noblesville Athletic Club.

American Ninja Warrior is a weekly tradition for Chase and his grandmother, Angie Knight.

"I had no idea he was going to be here," said Chase's grandmother Angie Knight. "Chase never gets to see anyone with Alopecia. He thinks Kevin Bull is just the greatest. He was just in heaven when he walked in."

The promotion was part of a documentary series being created by the non-profit Olivia's Cause, a group founded by Sandy Rusk and her daughter Olivia Rusk, 20, who also has Alopecia. Olivia's Cause aims to raise awareness and education around Alopecia and spread a positive message of support and acceptance to children who suffer from it.

The pilot to this series is being pitched to various television networks and Sandy hopes it could be picked up by next year. The pilot will include footage of Chase and his family, the pizza party with Chase and friends and Bull teaching the kids how to complete different obstacles.

Sandy said that Olivia's Cause allows her to support other families in the way she wishes she had support as Olivia was first developing Alopecia.

"As a mom going through it is very challenging," she said. "It's not life threatening in any way and so the medical community has a tendency to discount it. We wanted to take a family that is going through it and figure out a way to help them."

For Smith and Devereaux, this event symbolized the fruition of their goals in creating the facility. Smith dealt with numerous health problems a few years ago, including a stroke, heart attack and broken neck.

"I noticed everyone around me started telling me to be careful and worrying about me," Smith said. "I couldn't even go swimming without people getting nervous and telling me to be careful."

Because of this, Smith decided to redefine his story and train for American Ninja Warrior. In 2015 he competed in the military edition of ANW. Although his run through never made it to TV, the chance to prove himself was all that Smith needed.

After the show, he and his family decided to build their own obstacle training facility to help others take control over their own stories. He hoped that the facility would become an environment for people to challenge themselves and overcome the literal and metaphorical obstacles.

Visit oliviascause.org for more information.

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