Bulldog of the Month: American Ninja Warrior Contestant Dalton Knapp
From the hospital bed to the obstacle course, Dalton Knapp never ceases to amaze those around him in overcoming difficulties in his way.
As a young boy, Knapp was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that he battled during his childhood.
“When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia,” said Knapp. “I went through a lot of chemotherapy and then total body radiation in order to have a stem cell transplant.”
These procedures cured Knapp of cancer, but his battles were far from over. The after effects of treatment left Knapp in a critical state for any young child.
“Through battling cancer, the biggest struggle came after,” Knapp said. “I was left with basically no muscle at all, which made walking and normal, everyday activities hard for me.”
Through this adversity, Knapp never lost motivation and hope for the future.
“I had to keep the mindset that if I kept working at it, I would get better, and I eventually did get to the point that I could do everyday things again,” said Knapp.
With the support of his family and friends, Knapp beat cancer and it motivated him to send support to others who are going through struggles similar to his.
“During my battle through cancer I had a lot of family members, the community, and friends supporting me and that meant so much to me,” said Knapp.
Knapp reached out to victims of cancer through his debut on the NBC television show “American Ninja Warrior,” where he dedicated his run at the Denver City Finals to all those battling cancer.
“I wanted kids who are battling cancer to know that if they just keep fighting they can get through it and they’ll be able to accomplish whatever they set their mind to,” said Knapp.
Being on “American Ninja Warrior” was more than just a competition for Knapp, it was a lifelong dream that he shared with his two brothers.
“My brothers and I watched ‘Ninja Warrior’ when we were kids and we thought it would be awesome to do when we were older,” Knapp said, “then about five years ago we built an obstacle course in our backyard and it all went from there.”
Knapp’s older brother was more than just a training partner for “American Ninja Warrior,” he was the inspiration for Knapp to compete on the show.
“My brother, Drew Knapp, competed on the show last year and he dedicated his run to me, which meant the world to me,” Knapp said. “I always wanted to compete on the show, but I don’t know if I had it in me to actually go on the show until he did it.”
Competing with his older brother every step of the way, Knapp placed in the top thirty out of more than 100 contestants in the first round of Denver City Qualifiers, which secured him a spot in the Denver City Finals where Knapp placed twentieth. This placement barely missed the cut off to enter the next round, but for Knapp running the course was reward enough.
“When I walked up the steps to start my run, my heart just started pounding and I got a huge adrenaline rush,” said Knapp. “Going on obstacle course was so much fun, even after I fell I was smiling.”
From cancer survivor to an “American Ninja Warrior,” Knapp’s story of overcoming his struggles touched countless lives across the country.
“My brother and I received so many comments and messages after the first show aired,” said Knapp. “All of the support and questions we received on social media were pretty amazing.”