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Local News

Glen Ellyn resident makes it to national finals on 'American Ninja Warrior'

Kyle Schulze was born with severe hearing loss

Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze, who is deaf, is competing on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." During the Aug. 6 episode of the show, Schulze advanced to the national finals in Las Vegas.
Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze, who is deaf, is competing on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." During the Aug. 6 episode of the show, Schulze advanced to the national finals in Las Vegas.

GLEN ELLYN – As someone who is deaf, Glen Ellyn resident Kyle Schulze has had to overcome his share of challenges.

The 2008 Glenbard West High School graduate is not afraid of challenges, as he showed by making it to the national finals round on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." The NBC show follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city finals rounds across the country.

"I was able to empower the deaf community," Schulze said, who proudly goes by the nickname, "Deaf Ninja." "We are just as competitive as anyone else. We are strong and proud."

Those who successfully complete the finals course in their designated region move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas. The winner will take home a grand prize of $1 million.  

During the Aug. 6 episode of the show, the 28-year-old Schulze competed in the Indianapolis City Finals and emerged among the top 15 contestants to advance to the national finals in Las Vegas. The episode was taped April 29.

He is the first deaf ninja warrior to make it to the national finals. His mother, Laura Schulze, is beyond proud of what he has accomplished.

"He's been on a mission to do this," she said. "He's been determined and focused, and he is a hard worker. He works two jobs, and he trains a few hours a day."

Kyle Schulze works at the Trader Joe's store in Glen Ellyn and also is a coach at the Chicago Ninja Academy in West Chicago. He coaches adults and children and recently helped to host a deaf day at the academy for deaf adults and children and children of deaf adults.

He was born with a severe to profound hearing loss.

"Without my hearing aids, I'm completely deaf," he said. "I took 14 to 15 years of speech therapy to help me pronounce some of my words better, and that's why some people assume I'm not deaf because I have really good speech. But I grew up signing. I grew up in the deaf culture, and I had hearing aids to help me."

The national finals are set to air Aug. 27. As he was going through the course, Schulze said he felt confident he would do well. He also appeared on the show last year but didn't make it to the finals.

"This year, I was determined to make it to the national finals," he said. "I was nervous, but at the same time, it was one of my proudest moments. It was exhilarating."

Schulze started his obstacle training when he was 22. On average, he trains between three and five hours a day.

"It could be a variation of cardio workouts, rock climbing, ninja training and circuit training," he said. "Sometimes I will do about 100 pull-ups a day."

Schulze said he hopes he can be an inspiration to other people.

"I love challenging myself and trying to push my boundaries," he said. "It felt like another obstacle for me that I just wanted to overcome. Coming back to do the show again, I wanted to help motivate people to accomplish their dreams and go for something that was outside their comfort zone."

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