15-year-old Olivia Colasuonno is a contestant on American Ninja Warrior Junior – thanks in part to a new training center in San Dimas. The Movement Lab was founded by American Ninja Warrior contestants. It features familiar obstacles from the show including the Salmon Ladder and Warped Wall.
When the Movement Lab opened in Olivia’s area she was ready for a new challenge. She had already earned a black belt in mixed martial arts and gotten into the Spartan Race. The Colasuonno family quickly found itself spending hours at the Movement Lab, day after day, as Olivia’s skills improved. Now she helps even younger kids conquer the obstacles. Her dad says it’s really helped her “come out of her shell.”
When Olivia found out American Ninja Warrior was starting a Junior version, she was ready to compete with the best of them. She also had a special story and a cause to promote: Project Gidget.
In 2014 Olivia’s rescue dog named Gidget died. It was sad and shocking and Olivia’s mom says her daughter new she needed to find a way to honor Gidget. So Olivia called the Humane Society, but was told she was too young to volunteer. The Humane Society suggested she do a donation drive. So Olivia’s mom offered to post a flyer on Facebook, if Olivia did the work of making the flyer. Within a day of the flyer going up, some of Olivia’s friends were showing up with donations. Project Gidget has raised thousands of dollars and truckloads of donations for shelter animals.
“In her mind, this is honoring Gidget in everything she does. She feels like that’s just really been something positive out of something horrific that happened in her life.” Karen Colasuonno says of her daughter. “She wants Gidget’s light to shine and in the meantime her light’s shining.”
Olivia’s first episode on American Ninja Warrior Junior airs Saturday, March 30th at 7 p.m. on Universal Kids. The show is also available on some streaming services including Hulu. Check out the segment Jennifer did on Wake Up Call and see some of her training videos below!