Tennessee Macaroni KID Publisher Hosts Inclusive Ninja Warrior Event

Event brought together America Ninja Warrior Elijah Browning and Franklin, Tenn. gym owner

By Macaroni KID May 10, 2022
Macaroni KID Franklin, Tenn. Publisher Heather Griffin, left, with America Ninja Warrior Elijah Browning, his mother, Renee Browning, and We Rock the Spectrum Franklin owner Steve Komarnitsky.

Heather Griffin, the publisher of Macaroni KID Franklin, Tenn.knew just who could help when the owner of an inclusive local gym for kids told her he was interested in hosting events.

Heather reached out to Elijah "The Boss" Browning, a contestant on America Ninja Warrior in 2021, who is from Heather's area of Tennessee. He is also expected to appear on the popular NBC program again this summer.

She knew from firsthand experience Elijah, just 17, would likely enjoy the opportunity to work with kids at an event at the gym. That's because her own son, Ollie, 6, loves going over to play on the huge ninja rig that Elijah built with his grandfather in their backyard.

"Elijah has a strong passion for working with kids, he really loves it. So I thought he'd love the idea of doing an inclusive Ninja workshop for kids of all abilities," Heather says.

The We Rock the Spectrum gym in Franklin is a sensory-friendly inclusive gym that works with kids of all abilities.

She was right: Elijah jumped at Heather's idea. 

More than 80 kids turned out for the chance to be trained by a real Ninja Warrior at the inclusive Ninja clinic earlier this month at We Rock the Spectrum Gym Franklin. 

"This was a perfect example of two local brands and businesses coming together with a unique value proposition that served our communities here in Middle Tennessee," says Steve Komarnitsky, the owner of the gym.

Photo by Clara Vaughn

During the event, Elijah led participants through four ninja warrior stations including a zip line, climbing wall, rings, and balance obstacles. Kids even got to hit a buzzer at the end of the course, just like the competitors on the show.

"It was really rewarding seeing both the success of the event and the connections Elijah made with the kids at the event," Heather says.

Macaroni KID publishers offer unique connections

Many of our Macaroni KID publishers love to help local businesses reach families in their communities by organizing or hosting community events. Because our publishers are local to their communities, they're able to make unique connections and introductions, as Heather made with Elijah and the gym.

Photo by Clara Vaughn

Heather became a publisher for Macaroni KID a year ago this month. She'd followed her local Macaroni KID since her son was a toddler and when she found out the publisher position had opened up, she jumped at the chance to take over.

"It's been really challenging, but really rewarding," says Heather, who worked in the recording industry, as a freelance writer, and a teacher prior to becoming a mom and then joining Macaroni KID. "I really love it."

We're so proud of the ways Macaroni KID publishers like Heather Griffin make an impact on their communities. Interested in finding out about joining our team and becoming a Macaroni KID publisher in your community? Get details at!