Spencer Wyckoff’s foray into the reality-TV world of “American Ninja Warrior” is, as he describes it, “a combination of fate, good timing, old friends and talented people.” For Spencer, the opportunity to appear on “American Ninja Warrior” was about more than just beating the show’s signature swinging, swatting and slippery obstacles, it was about sharing the story of his sister, Carden Wyckoff, with as many people as possible.
Carden suffers from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). The brother–sister team are committed to spreading awareness about FSHD and generating the focus that could help find a cure. After completing a piggy-back version of the Atlanta Sprint Spartan Race for a second year in a row, Spencer decided he was up for a new challenge to help spread the word about FSHD. With encouragement from Travis Harkey, owner of CrossFit North Atlanta, Spencer filled out a very long application and created a video that shared the real reason why he wanted to join the cast. Soon after, Spencer received a call and was told he was going to have a chance to appear on the show.
Surrounded by friends and family, Spencer tackled the course to kick-off the show’s eighth season and achieved his ultimate goal—telling his sister’s story. The ANW producers connected with Carden’s struggle and reached out to the siblings to learn more about her FSHD journey and how it motivated Spencer’s ANW adventure.
Spencer and Carden spent a day with a film crew, showing them what life is like for Carden and others who struggle with FSHD. Nearly 1 million people worldwide battle the disease, which slowly deteriorates the muscle strength of sufferers. Primarily affecting the face, shoulder and arm muscles, FSHD eventually attacks all the smooth muscles in the body. For Carden, everyday tasks can be challenging and frustrating. Currently there is no cure or treatment for FSHD, which is why research and awareness created by organizations such as the FSH Society are so crucial.
While the Wyckoffs are unsure just how much of their story will be featured on “American Ninja Warrior,” they are grateful for the opportunity to spread the word.
“A great story can take you from the couch, wondering [what] it would be like to be [in the] national television spotlight in under three months. Each one of us has a story to tell. The sooner you start that process, the more your fire will start to burn. The more people your story impacts, the hotter your fire will burn,” Spencer reports on his blog.