American Ninja Warrior Roo Yori created a foundation in his beloved pit bull's memory. Now he's using his platform on the popular TV show to raise money for Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation— and awareness for dog rescues everywhere.
American Ninja Warrior Andrew “Roo” Yori has long been an advocate for abandoned dogs. His experience with one particular rescue pit bull, Wallace, showed he could spread his message to raise awareness and change the views of skeptics all over the world.
Shortly after rescue, Wallace displayed his talents for chasing and playing with frisbees— rare for a pit bull. For hundreds of thousands, Wallace changed the perception of pit bulls, one frisbee championship at a time.
Unfortunately, Roo had to face the reality that so many dog owners do, and Wallace was put down after a lengthy battle with two different forms of cancer in 2013. Without his frisbee companion, Roo struggled for a way to be the same champion for rescue dogs that the competitions provided. He founded Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation, but there was still something missing.
“When Wallace passed away he was such a big part of how I advocated for dogs; everyone wanted to see Wallace. I wasn’t nearly as cool, and I was struggling on how to move forward. The foundation was great but I wasn’t sure if I was having the same impact. Fortunately, I got the shot to be on American Ninja Warrior, and I was like ‘what if I can use this platform to continue to make a positive impact?’”
When Yori qualified for Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior, he was given the national audience he needed to make a difference. Now he just needed to figure out an easy way that would turn that attention into money for his foundation.
“I thought of the old elementary school method of a pledge-a-thon. I talked to a couple of people who tried to do a pledge-a-thon on their own, but they had to circle back after the fact, and not everyone paid up because they couldn’t capture that mode of payment right up front," he explained "They said it was a huge hassle. When I found Pledge It I really liked how [the platform] operated. I gave it a shot last year, and it went really well. So this year it was a no brainer on whether or not to use it again. People really loved it. It was really easy on my end, and we raised a lot of money."
Yori has a large (partially Wallace-enabled) following on social media that has allowed him to spread his message in advance of the show on June 4th. It’s this engagement that has led Yori’s campaigns to such success— nearly $17,000 so far between the two. Now it’s up to his performance in Season 11 of American Ninja Warrior to see where he can go with this year’s campaign, and how far he can spread his message.
“I just encourage everyone to adopt a rescue dog because there’s a lot of them out there. They didn’t have a choice to end up in a shelter, but it can be our choice to get them out of there. I really enjoy doing this and hopefully I can complete as many obstacles as possible to raise as much money as I can.”