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Ninjas Making a Difference: Nick Hanson

This series highlights Ninjas who are making a difference in their community.

Nick Hanson, named the Eskimo Ninja because he’s Inupiaq, an indigenous group from northwestern Alaska. He hails from a village of fewer than 700 people called Unalakleet. Nick first competed on season 7 of American Ninja Warrior, barely missing City Finals. In season 9, Nick made it to Stage Two of the National Finals and in both season 10 and 11, he failed on the Twist & Fly obstacle in Stage One.

As a World Eskimo Indian Olympian and Ninja, Nick has become a motivational speaker with a goal to reach as many kids as possible with the message: “Know Who You Are.” He shares his culture at schools, on Instagram, and is even in the running for Alaska Athlete of the Decade (voting closes January 4th!).

The weekend before Christmas, Nick decided to direct his efforts to help out the homeless on a -17° day in Anchorage, Alaska. He partnered with a local company, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, to give out warm drinks and EskimoNinja hoodies.

We caught up with Nick to find out more about how this came about. “Joanne (my gf/manager) has been wanting to give back to the homeless for a while now, and we do periodically as most people would with some change or a dollar. But when I saw what Ellen DeGeneres and Jason Momoa did on her show, giving so much to people in need, I decided to pay it forward this Christmas,” he explained.

Nick is always open to partnering with local businesses and when he was in line for coffee one day, he happened to be standing right behind the director of marketing. “Seth recognized me from the show and after a brief introduction handed me his card and offered me a sponsorship!” said the Eskimo Ninja.

He called the experience “Insightful. Emotional. Bittersweet. Heartwarming. The homeless were so thankful for a hot beverage and warm clothes, but yet we wanted to be able to do more. After hearing their stories and chatting with each and every person, one begins to understand the struggle and the humble beginnings of our homeless.”

Like many Ninjas, Nick has realized that he now has a platform to talk about topics that are important to him. “Over the years I’ve come to understand the influence I have on my peers, the youth, and the leaders in our communities... I understand my role as an ambassador for my culture and our communities. Giving back is what got me to where I am in the first place, and I intend to continue that tradition and pass it on to anyone willing.”

He travels across Alaska and the Lower 48 teaching his native traditions, building Ninja obstacles, and actively working with youth to address the suicide epidemic. “With every trip I meet new people and new connections that lead to invitations to schools, churches, gyms, or communities that have suffered loss, or simply want to help prevent it. I just want to show that limits don’t exist — only goals to be achieved.”

Nick explained that he posted the video to inspire others to do what they can. “Clean out their closets, make a fresh pot of coffee, hand out some hot food,” he suggests.

This project was his way of giving back — what can you do to help someone in need?