$25,000 prize awarded to Ninja Park Obstacle and Fitness Training Gym

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2016 -- Yesterday, SCORE, mentors to America's small businesses, and Sam's Club announced Ninja Park Obstacle and Fitness Training Gym as the grand prize winner of the American Small Business Championship. The $25,000 grand prize was awarded at the SCORE Awards Gala, held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Ninja Park, a family-owned obstacle training facility in Albuquerque, N.M., provides clients of all ages and fitness levels with classes, parties and training sessions that build strength, self-confidence and perseverance skills. The grand prize money will be used for the continued development of Ninja Park's program for children with autism.

"Thank you, thank you! We are so excited and grateful. I am inspired by the work that SCORE does to assist people like us with the often difficult job of starting, operating, and growing a small business," said Ninja Park co-owner, Marie Takach. "I am also so grateful to Sam's Club. Their efforts are invaluable in assisting small businesses like ours in growing so that we can help more people in our community."

Ninja Park was one of nearly 400 small businesses that entered the American Small Business Championship from across the nation by identifying what dream they could achieve by winning. 103 finalists from 48 states were provided with a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, SCORE mentoring, publicity and networking opportunities, before a panel of judges selected Ninja Park as Grand Champion.

Garrett Takach founded Ninja Park in 2014, when he was just 18 years old. His close relationship with his younger brother, who has autism, instilled a dream of helping autistic children learn to overcome obstacles in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

"Our hope is that the lessons learned in our gym can be taken home and utilized when facing everyday life challenges," Garrett Takach said. "Winning this championship will give us the opportunity to buy special needs equipment, expand our children's obstacle and party area, and offer more times to accommodate greater numbers of clients."

"When Sam's Club agreed to partner with us to create American Small Business Championship, I never imagined we would have so many well-qualified small businesses engage in the program," said David R. Bobbitt, President of the SCORE Foundation. "Ninja Park has been named our Grand Champion today because they leveraged the prizes into significant new revenue growth for their business. They also represent the other 102 finalists, who are all winners in their own right."

"Serving small business owners is part of our DNA at Sam's Club, and we consider it a privilege to serve more than 600,000 small business owners per week," said Tracey D. Brown, Senior Vice President and Chief Member Officer for Sam's Club. "We are constantly looking for ways to support small businesses beyond our club walls by connecting our members to training and resources they need to help grow their business. That's why we are honored to be a part of the SCORE competition that celebrates the small business owners who make up the backbone of the American economy, and we congratulate the American Small Business Champion and all of those who helped make this contest a huge success."

For more information on the American Small Business Championship, visit championship.score.org.

Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs to start and grow their small businesses. Each year, SCORE's 10,000+ volunteer business experts provide 350,000+ free and low-cost small business mentoring services, workshops and education to clients. In 2015, SCORE mentors in 300 chapters volunteered 2.2+ million hours to help create over 45,000 jobs and 55,000 small businesses.

For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org. Follow SCOREMentors on Facebook and Twitter.

Sam's Club, the nation's eighth largest retailer and a leading U.S. membership club, offers savings and surprises to millions of members in 655 U.S. club locations and at SamsClub.com. The Sam's Club Giving Program, established by the Walmart Foundation in 2008, is dedicated to micro- and small business prosperity. Sam's Club and The Sam's Club Giving Program have invested more than $18 million in national and local programs dedicated to improved training, education and increased access to capital for small business owners. For more information on national or local giving by Sam's Club or The Sam's Club Giving Program, visit SamsClub.com/giving.