“Just in the nick of time.” I couldn’t help but think of this idiom when I recently met Nik Wallenda. I wondered just how often this daredevil’s
actions were tweaked into submission, ‘just in time.’ He says what he does is all about concentration, focus and training. By the way, this saying dates back to the 1500’s when ‘nick’ meant a critical moment. Nik Wallenda has certainly faced many of these.
While spending some time away from home in Sarasota, Florida, I was able to meet Nik. This is a circus town and we recently went with family to Circus Sarasota. It’s a great circus and this year they featured Nik
Wallenda and members of The Flying Wallendas family. Nik is a seventh generation member of this family.
Sarasota became a circus town many years ago, when Ringling chose it as a summer home for Ringling Brothers Circus. The city has circus in its blood. Circus people sense that and congregate, for the winter, there and in the nearby town of Gibsonton.
It’s no surprise that Nik Wallenda has circus and it’s form of entertainment flowing through his veins. Known as “King of the High-Wire,” Nik’s recent feat has people wondering if there is nothing this man can’t accomplish on the high wire. He describes himself as a challenge-driven person. “Don’t tell me, it can’t be done, because I’ll find a way to do it” he says. He holds six Guinness World Records for various acrobatic feats, but is best known as the first person to walk a tightrope stretched directly over Niagara Falls. This he
accomplished on June 15, 2012. Actually, Wallenda attempts other challenges besides those on the tight rope. A year previously, in June, he hung from a helicopter 250 feet off the ground using only his teeth to hold on. Just last month, his latest feat was right here in Sarasota when on January 29th he walked a high wire 180 feet above beautiful downtown Sarasota. He accomplished this without a tether, on a wire the size of a nickel.
He autographed my circus program, then stood up so my daughter could get a shot of us together. What did I say to him? I think I muttered
something about the great show he put on. My husband, however, asked him if he was a born again Christian. “Yes, I am,” was his quick reply as we moved on in the line of autograph seekers. We knew Nik was a follower of Christ from the testimony he gave while crossing Niagara Falls. Through his microphone he could be heard praying and praising God. “I grew up in a born-again Christian family. A Bible believing, God fearing family. That’s the way I was raised and I find comfort and peace in that,” he said, as he explained that it took lots of
praying before he crossed the Niagara Falls. Moments before strapping on the harness, he joined hands in prayer with his wife, Erindera, an eighth-generation wire walker herself. Fourteen years ago, Nik proposed to her on a wire while kneeling on it 30 feet in the air. They are now the parents of three children.
What’s next for Nik? In the planning is a walk across the Grand Canyon. This is an estimated distance of 5000 feet. He said arrangements are 98 percent certain and that the walk would take place in May or June of 2013 and he is working to get something in writing that says no safety harness would be required for the walk. Imagine this, no matter where he goes, especially unique or different places like the continental divide in Turkey and the Inca ruins at Macchu Picchu, he looks to see where he could string a wire from “here to there and walk it.”
I, one among millions, watched his every step on TV as Nik crossed the treacherous wire strung across Niagara Falls. At the circus, he and family members, feats were amazing, too. With his determination, he will face many more critical moments in life when he will need to react precisely and at the best possible time. I pray his reactions will be “just in the nick of time.”
Photos by JANINE BROSCIOUS