Sal Barone, an academic professional in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, was recently in the news for helping to organize a suprise meeting between several local American Ninja Warriors and Nathan Bywaters, an eight-year-old aspiring Ninja who had recently gone through a life-saving open heart surgery.
The meeting took place at the 2019 Georgia Tech for the Kids - Dance Marathon. The annual at Georgia Tech raises money for sick kids in our local community to get the care they need.
"Georgia Tech for the Kids has raised more than $322,000 for the Sibley Heart Center and warriors like Nathan. You can follow his story on Instagram at @nathantheheartwarrior." -NBC News
Nathan got to meeet Nick Patel, Joey DeSocio, Michael "Greatness" Johnson, Calle Alexander, and Sal Barone, all of whom have participated in the NBC TV show American Ninja Warrior.
"One of my old students, Emily Bly, came into my office and told me about Nathan. Of course, I had to help in any way I could. Clearly Nathan is a very very strong kid, in more ways than one." -Sal Barone
At the event, Nathan was presented with a signed American Ninja Warrior t-shirt, He was also interviewed for the NBC news story, which appeared online and on TV.
"Today was most definitely the best day of my life!!! @gtftk arranged a surprise meeting for me today with some real life ninjas!!!!!! You guys have no idea how much this means to me!" -Nathan Bywaters via Instagram
Dr. Barone also appeared in a feature made by Georgia Tech when he competed in American Ninja Warrior, and says he may try to go back to being a Ninja someday.
"It's a lot like doing research mathematics [being a ninja], or anything else that's really hard: you have to devote yourself completely and be passionate and work incredibly hard, every day. There are no half-ninjas." -Sal Barone
Even if there are no half-ninjas, Nathan has shown us that great things really can come in half-sized packages and that there is no limit to what you can overcome if you really set your mind to it.
"He really is one of the strongest kids I've met. Just a few hours after his surgery he told a friend of mine who was there that his new heart is going to change the world and I really believe that he is going to do huge things to support kids just like him when he gets older." -Emily Bly