DIRIGO STORIES: Maine man with Cystic Fibrosis to compete on 'American Ninja Warrior'
DANVERS, Mass. (WGME) -- A 22-year-old from Livermore Falls is out to prove his physical limitations are no match for his mental strength when he competes on "American Ninja Warrior" this weekend in Cleveland.
"It's not 100 percent real to me yet, I don't really know how to take it in," said Scott Marraffa.
Marraffa was born with Cystic Fibrosis. It's a "progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time," according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The median predicted survival age is close to 40.
"I'm working with about 65 percent of my lung function right now," Marraffa said.
Most people, with 100 percent lung function, can't do the physical tricks required to succeed on "American Ninja Warrior," which makes Marraffa's accomplishments all the more impressive.
"He's an amazing athlete," said Vince Klapper, head coach at Gymja in Danvers, Mass.
Marraffa has been training with Klapper for the past year and a half, at Gymja. Klapper has competed on "American Ninja Warrior" twice, and encouraged Marraffa to apply. Marraffa found out at the end of March that he was accepted.
"I hope that he surpasses anything I did on the show," Klapper said.
On the show, contestants run through an obstacle course that sends them running up 14 foot walls, balancing on ledges, and other hurdles that would send most people running in the opposite direction.
"People say to us all the time, 'I can't believe he's doing this stuff,'" said Marraffa's dad, David. "We told him you can do whatever you want to do. don't let people tell you what you can or can't do."
Marraffa admits he was no athlete when he was a kid, and between the ages of 4 and 10, he spent almost as much time in the hospital as he did out of the hospital. It wasn't until he started nannying for his two nieces after graduating from Spruce Mountain High School that things changed.
"I realized that there are people here who need me," Marraffa said. "So I need to be as healthy as I can ,and just make sure that I'm here for as long as possible."
Marraffa put on 30 pounds of muscle in a year. Cystic Fibrosis also affects the stomach, so he has to eat 10,000 calories a day to keep his stomach settled and his body functioning well.
"Training for me, it goes day by day. So I have to just wake up first thing in the morning and see from there how well things are gonna go."
If Marraffa does well at the competition in Cleveland, he'll move on to the next round of "American Ninja Warrior." He won't be able to reveal how he performs until the episode airs some time in June, but there's one message he wants people to know right now.
"There are people that don't have CF, but they have their own thing that limits them day to day, and I want them to know it doesn't have to."
To support Marraffa's "Ninja Warrior journey" CLICK HERE.
For videos and updates on his training CLICK HERE.