This post was originally published in the "In the Loop" blog.
Age seems to slow most people down. But Andrew Yori isn't like most people. We introduced you to Andrew—a.k.a., the K9 Ninja—last year, when he was preparing to compete in an "American Ninja Warrior" regional qualifying event in Indianapolis. Back then, he was a 39-year-old rookie, just hoping to make it through the reality TV show's qualifying round. He did that and more, eventually making it all the way to the show's Las Vegas finals. And while Andrew didn't get a chance to try scaling Mt. Midoriyama, he did achieve what for him was an even bigger goal: raising awareness of shelter dogs and their need for forever homes.
In the year since, Andrew has entered a new decade. He's started a new job as an assistant lab supervisor at Mayo Clinic. And he's continued to hone his ninja game, an effort that was rewarded in March when he received a call inviting him to compete again on season nine of American Ninja Warrior. He'll travel to Kansas City, Missouri, for a regional qualifying event on April 24. And he's feeling pretty good about it.
"I feel better and stronger than I did last year," Andrew tells us, noting that part of the credit for that goes to the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine team that has twice helped him rehab from a nagging shoulder injury. To get ready for this year's competition, Andrew tells us the team "gave me some PT exercises, and I made those exercises into a workout." Judging from these videos of Andrew's training sessions, the workouts worked out all right.
Those who have followed Andrew's story know he is as dedicated to helping others as he is to his training. In addition to being a tireless advocate for homeless dogs, he's using his growing platform to reach out to kids. He's visited Rochester-area classrooms to talk about dog safety and the needs of homeless dogs, and he served as a celebrity reader during National Reading Month. In March, he was part of the Cabin Fever Bean Bag Tournament, which raises money for the Eagles Cancer Telethon. Andrew was even invited to be part of the tournament's Fighter Round, which featured four young cancer fighters paired with celebrity heroes of their choice. Superman and our favorite Minnesota Viking, Rochester's own Marcus Sherels, were also part of the event.
According to the tournament website, Andrew was partnered with Charlie, a 7-year-old with a "competitive streak" and "passion to tackle any obstacle in front of him." (Sound like anyone else?) But because Charlie had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant, he was unable to leave the hospital on the day of the tournament. So Andrew visited him at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center and later, at the Ronald McDonald House. "It was amazing to be a part of that," Andrew tells us. "It was such a great experience. I'd love to do more things like that." (We have a hunch he will.)
The new season of "American Ninja Warrior" premiers June 12. Andrew tells us the episode featuring the Kansas City qualifier will likely run about a month later, and you can follow his Facebook page for updates.