Jimmy Kimmel didn’t just bring a rousing plea for health care to Monday’s episode of his late-night talk show, he also invited extreme sportsman Shaun White to speak about his struggles with congenital heart disease in an effort to spread awareness about affordable treatment options for the nation’s families.
The two-time Olympic gold medal snowboarder spoke with Kimmel about his personal bout with the condition, explaining he’d undergone an operation similar to the one Kimmel’s newborn son, Billy, endured last week.
“I don’t really, obviously, remember much at that point. I was so young. It brought back a lot, seeing [your monologue],” White said, further discussing an additional pair of reparative surgeries he received after the initial procedure.
While his heart could have prevented him from launching his prolific career in athletics, White went on to praise his parents’ decision to push him toward his goals even harder instead of sheltering him because of his malady.
“My parents are the ones that made me who I am. They didn’t put these limitations on me. [The disease] was obviously explained… but [they weren’t] hovering over me to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble or working out too much or doing anything active,” he said (as seen in the video above). “They really let me find my own limitations, so I feel like that’s why I’m so athletic now.”
The 30-year-old also revealed he receives regular examinations “every couple of years” to maintain his health, undergoing stress tests to ensure the functionality of his heart — an act that’s important now more than ever, as he’s currently training for the 2018 Winter Olympics (with his eye set on competing as a skateboarder in 2020 Summer Olympics).
At the close of the interview, Kimmel thanked White for sharing his story.
“You’re an inspiration to a lot of families who go through this situation, so thank you. Thanks to your parents, really, for not taking it easy on you,” he said. “It makes me believe that my son, too, is going to win Olympic gold medals for the United States of America — only if they make pizza-eating an Olympic event.”
Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.