Flip Rodriguez believes in doing something uncomfortable every day, and on Thursday that uncomfortable thing will be speaking publicly about the sexual abuse he experienced as a child.
American Ninja Warrior competitor Rodriguez will share his story of recovery at ChildSafe's Power of Healing annual fundraising luncheon in Fort Collins.
ChildSafe provides comprehensive outpatient treatment in Northern Colorado for child and adult survivors of childhood abuse. In 2021, the organization served more than 1,000 clients — a 12% increase from 2020, according to a news release.
Rodriguez, who started as a competitive freerunner, first competed on the reality competition show American Ninja Warrior more than 10 years ago. It wasn’t until his fifth season competing on the show that he revealed he experienced sexual abuse as a child.
After that, Rodriguez said people asked him what kept him so positive all the time.
“There wasn't just one thing,” Rodriguez said of his recovery. “It was actually a lot of little things that I didn’t realize affected my life until days, months or years later.”
An organization like ChildSafe would have been life changing for him when he experienced abuse as a child and would’ve given him the resources and help he needed, Rodriguez said.
“I wish there was a platform growing up for me like this,” Rodriguez said.
He hopes his talk Thursday will not only give him an opportunity to share stories from his life he doesn’t normally get to talk about, but also spotlight the importance of community organizations like ChildSafe that shine a spotlight on child sexual abuse — an uncomfortable issue some people shy away from, Rodriguez said.
When he first appeared on American Ninja Warrior, Rodriguez said he was invited to compete after competing in a different freerunning competition.
“It was attacking fear, it was acrobatics,” Rodriguez said “… I had no idea what I was getting myself into, to be honest with you. … I’m kind of that guy who rolls with the punches, just rolls with the wind.”
Since then, Rodriguez said he embraces what he finds uncomfortable by attacking things he’s afraid of — and public speaking is one of those things.
“I believe on the other side of being uncomfortable there’s growth,” he said.
Rodriguez said he believes sharing his story will inspire at least one person to help someone else or seek help for themselves.
“If someone hears my story and they're going through something like it, they know that’s (where they are is) not where they're going to end up,” Rodriguez said. “... They don’t have to stay stuck where they started.”
ChildSafe Power of Healing fundraising luncheon
What: An opportunity for the community to learn about ChildSafe's work over lunch. There will be a meet and greet and photo opportunities with speaker Flip Rodriguez after the event.
Where: The Hilton, 425 W. Prospect Road, Fort Collins
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20
Cost: The lunch is free, but attendees will be asked to make a donation. Donations can also be made online at https://www.childsafecolorado.org/donate.
Registration: Online registration is required and can be completed at https://www.childsafecolorado.org/events/the-power-of-healing. Those who would like to reserve an entire table should call 970-449-4944 or email email@example.com.
How to seek help for child sexual abuse
If you suspect a child in your life is being sexually abused, you can contact The Hub, Larimer County's multi-agency hotline, 24 hours a day at 970- 498-6990.
If you have questions about a child's behavior and whether there may be cause for concern, you can call ChildSafe Northern Colorado's Clinical Director Val Macri-Lind at 970-472-4133, extension 202.
For more information on available resources, including how to get involved with programs at ChildSafe, visit https://www.childsafecolorado.org/get-help.
Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: American Ninja Warrior star to share his story of childhood abuse