fbpx Skip to content

American Ninja Warrior + Parkinson’s Advocate Jimmy Choi (ep. 332)

John O’Leary welcomes Parkinson’s advocate and American Ninja Warrior Jimmy Choi to the Live Inspired Podcast for an uplifting reminder of the power of community.

Recently a video of Jimmy Choi went viral on video-sharing social network TikTok in which he was having a hard time opening his pill bottle because of his early-onset Parkinson’s.

The TikTok community rallied around Jimmy. The result? So inspiring: An “accessible” bottle was created that Jimmy can now open with ease.

So honored to have Jimmy on the show to share the story behind the video, what it was like to be diagnosed with the disease at 27, the eight years of denial after the diagnosis + ALL that he has accomplished since:

  • completing the Chicago Marathon
  • competing four times on American Ninja Warrior
  • breaking a Guinness World Record for most chest-to-ground burpees in one minute
  • raising over $500,000 for Parkinson’s research.

If you could use an uplifting reminder of the power of community, this episode is for you.

Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:


  • “Life is going to throw obstacles at you. You never know in what form and in which way. It’s going to be tough, but there is always a way around it.”
  • After moving to Chicago from Taiwan at 10 years old, Jimmy struggled to adapt to a new culture yet found kindness, math + sports as gateways to adjusting.
  • At 27 years old, Jimmy could explain away his quirky symptoms yet a nurse performing a routine physical saw concerning behaviors.
  • Months after being diagnosed and only after deciding to take medication did Jimmy tell Cherryl, his wife + high school sweetheart.
  • For eight years, Jimmy ignored his disease, his body constantly adapting to a new normal and became isolated and inactive.
  • “I was active because I thought everything was normal. After I was given the diagnosis, it’s like someone flipped the switch.”
  • Jimmy’s inflection point came in 2010 after he tumbled down the stairs with his 10-month-old son.
  • Seeking a cure, Jimmy began participating in clinical trials regardless of its simplicity or risk.
  • One more step: Noticing the benefits from physical activity, Jimmy went from walking once around the block with a cane to running the Chicago Marathon with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
  • Becoming involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation provided Jimmy found a community of support.
  • Through proper diet + exercise, Jimmy learned how much stronger he is despite Parkinson’s.
  • “Exercise has become medication.”
  • The Fox Ninja: Trying to teach his daughter face adversity, Jimmy applies + is accepted to compete on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior in 2017 where he represented the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
  • Since his appearance on ANW, Jimmy has raised over $500,000 for Parkinson’s research.
  • Instead of posting a video of an incredible physical feat, Jimmy shared a now-viral video of him struggling to take his 3mm pills which inspired the TikTok community.
  • Brian Aldridge created a 3D rendering of a pill bottle that would isolate + administer a single pill. Once finalized, Brian plans to keep the drawing available to the public free of charge.
  • David Exler stepped in to 3D print the bottles and will up to 50 free bottles to anyone with proof of donation to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
  • “One of the reasons I work so hard to do things for myself is so I can remain independent.”
  • How can you use your weaknesses to your advantage and turn those into strengths? In Jimmy’s case, he used burpees as an opportunity to learn a survival skill and it turned into him breaking the World Record for number of burpees in 1 minute in August 2020.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.


My new book IN AWE is now available… and became an instant bestseller! Learn how to rediscover your childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. Visit ReadInAwe.com today! 


  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Living With a SEAL by Jesse Itzler.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Sense of adventure.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. My wall of accomplishments because they represent the milestones in life I was able to achieve during a dark time in my life.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Michael J. Fox and Bruce Lee.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. My dad’s mantra: Be above average.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Be patient. Progress and change doesn’t come overnight.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. You came at me hard but my family was there to push back against you.