EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Students in kindergarten through 12th grade cheered loudly as American Ninja Warrior competitors Daniel Gil and Jonathan Horton made their way to center court in the Atlantic Christian School gymnasium on Friday, May 11.
Following a video highlighting their appearances on the popular television show, Gil and Horton spoke to the students about perseverance and faith at an afternoon all-school assembly.
Horton, a former world champion and Olympic medalist in gymnastics, shared his story of repeated failures in his sport before breaking through and succeeding at the highest level.
"Even if you're not the most talented," said Horton, "you can be a winner if you work harder than everyone else and have faith in God and yourself."
Gil shared similar thoughts, telling students about how he dealt with multiple rejections auditioning for American Ninja Warrior before being invited onto the show and rising to the top of his sport. Gil spoke about what God can help people accomplish when they are willing to "say yes to him."
Following their presentation, Gil and Horton fielded questions from students. Some asked about specific ninja course obstacles and others inquired about their training methods.
When one student requested an impromptu demonstration of their skills, the pair engaged in a hand-stand contest.
With lots of high-fives and a few selfies, the popular athletes left the students with smiles, memories and spiritual life lessons.