David Moonen - American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior is a phenomenon that has garnered fans from across a wide spectrum. We tune in for the high drama as well as the heartwarming stories of athletes with humble roots who, through dedication to a craft, find themselves in the limelight. Building their own courses in garages and backyards, these competitors train continuously with the dream of being the last one standing. David Moonen, in the midst of his first run on American Ninja Warrior, has also been training relentlessly. However, his training often takes a slightly different form. Instead of building his own obstacle course, he trains his mind through the building of canoes.

Come to the sleepy river town of Winona, Minnesota and you’ll find a haven for paddlers and a collection of builders devoted to hand-crafting the tools every paddler needs . Merrimack Canoe Company has been building canoes since 1954 and has been the first choice of the discerning paddler for generations. A Merrimack canoe is built to be both light-weight and durable but the thing that truly sets it apart is the top notch craftsmanship. Cherry wood ribs are bent by hand into the composite hull to create a look reminiscent of the rib and canvas boats of a bygone era. Each canoe is then trimmed with cherry and ash and given an oil finish for a classic and understated beauty.

    By comparison, Sanborn Canoe Company is an upstart kid. Going into its 10th year, Sanborn is known for hand-crafted and hand-painted wooden canoe paddles. Each paddle is made for the water but looks just as good hung on your wall to make you dream of mountain lakes and lazy rivers. Sanborn creates both a piece of art made to inspire your next adventure and a tool to take you there.
    While separate companies, Merrimack and Sanborn operate out of the same shop and with similar philosophies. Paddling forces a person to be present in each moment. Every paddle stroke is only a small step forward, but you can’t reach your goal without it. We apply this same idea to building our canoes and paddles. Each step in the process is only a small part of the whole, but an attention to detail in each moment leads to a finished work to be proud of. With this pride of craftsmanship in mind, each canoe and paddle is signed by its craftsman. The center rib on every Merrimack is adorned with the signature of its builder and each Sanborn paddle has it maker’s initial branded just beneath the grip. We say, “Be here” to remind ourselves a quality effort in each moment is worth it. We say, “Put your name on it” so you know we’ve put ourselves into the work.

We’re proud to say our own David Moonen, whose signature graces the center rib of each Merrimack, is embodying these philosophies in an exciting new pursuit; American Ninja Warrior. David grew up in a close knit family. This family is shaped by things like playing bluegrass together and his dad’s ever repeated mantra, “Put your name on it.” This led to an incessant need to pursue excellence, even if that pursuit was a zest for living.
    David graduated from college this spring, but while pursuing his degree he was also training to be an officer in the US Army. Despite this full life, he worked a full time job in the Merrimack Canoe shop, beginning as an intern and working his way up to CEO. Despite high aspirations, David is most fully at home in the back of a canoe, paddling his way through the backwaters of the Mississippi. Between semesters he lived on a backwater island, commuting to and from work by canoe. He won’t sing for an audience, but the river creatures got an earful as David paddled home each day.

    Two years ago, David’s dad was diagnosed with cancer. He has since won this fight, but even when cancer is in remission it can have a lasting impact. One small effect, whose significance can’t be understated is a change of focus. The mantra “Put your name on it” still rings true, but is now interjected with the phrase, “Be kind.”
    As David competes in American Ninja Warrior, he does so in order to put his name on it. With this, he carries his dad’s name as well. So, following his dad’s advice to be kind, Sanborn and Merrimack have put together a limited edition paddle and canoe set designed specifically for the American Ninja Warrior competition. 50% of each sale will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital to join in the fight against childhood cancer. These items will only be available for as long as David is alive in the competition. So, get yours while you can and join us in both rooting David on and supporting the incredible work being done at St. Jude Children's Hospital.