Sanford Health employee competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

"My kids and I have watched it quite a bit and they have always said I should go on the show."

Sanford Health employee competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Jeff Chau: single father, Sanford Health employee, American Ninja Warrior.

Chau works at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as a floor installer in the construction services department. When not at work or at home with his four children, Chau spends his time at the gym.

“I work out seven days a week and I’m at the gym consistently,” he said. “I’ll be there an hour and half to two hours at a time.”

So when the Chau family heard about casting for one of their favorite shows, NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” the kids made it clear they wanted to see their dad on TV.

“My kids and I have watched it quite a bit and they have always said I should go on the show,” Chau said. “They wanted me to apply, so I did it.”


Though the decision to apply didn’t take long, the process took a lot longer than anticipated. After submitting his 25-page questionnaire and three-minute application video, Chau waited almost two years before getting a call back.

“In the process of trying to give up but not wanting to give up, I got a call in the middle of my workout from the NBC cast and crew congratulating me on being chosen to be a part of season 10,” Chau said. “It was absolutely crazy. My kids were all crying and it was really emotional for me and my family.”

Chau had just a few weeks to finish training before traveling to Minneapolis for the regional qualifier. He said he spent lots of time focusing on his upper body strength and hand grips.

“You can’t really train for the American Ninja obstacle because every year it’s always different,” he said. “But it’s a lot of upper body endurance, how long you can hold yourself on a bar when you’re swinging side to side or jumping to another bar.”

‘Chau the Ninja Warrior’

In May, 19 of Chau’s family and friends made the trip to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the show, sporting “Chau the Ninja Warrior” T-shirts on the evening of his run.

“It was pretty emotional for me when I stepped on that platform. When you see your family and your kids on the sideline, it’s the real deal,” Chau said. “My kids are sitting there screaming ‘Dad! Dad!’ but I tried to keep my head up and keep my focus on the obstacle. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Chau was one of more than 100 people who competed late into the night in an attempt to qualify for the national finals round in Las Vegas. His run didn’t start until around 10 p.m., and Chau said he didn’t leave the site until almost 6 a.m. the next morning.

“It was so energetic, you weren’t even tired,” he said. “You were just moving and moving and you wanted to go everywhere. I met some of the most inspiring men and women there and it was absolutely crazy.”


For Chau, this “once in a lifetime experience” was well worth the wait. Even weeks after returning home, his kids proudly show off their “American Ninja Warrior” gear and always talk about their dad being on the show.

“All the people around me have always been so supportive,” Chau said. “It makes me motivated to keep moving forward.

As part of his contract, Chau couldn’t say how he did, so his fans are waiting until the “American Ninja Warrior” Minneapolis City Qualifiers episode airs on Monday, July 9 at 8 p.m. CST on NBC.

Posted In Community, News, Non-Clinical Support Services, Sanford Stories