The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Serita Jakes


Holds World Record for being the first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a two-inch wire

Is the seventh generation of “The Great Wallendas,” family of daredevils that can trace their roots to the late 1700s

Other world records and stunts include: longest and highest bicycle ride on a high-wire (250-foot-long (76 m) ride at 135 feet (41 m) above the ground in New Jersey and performing on the Wheel of Death atop the 23 story Tropicana Casino and Resort

Married, 3 children


A High-Wire Prayer Over Niagara Falls

On June 15, 2012, high wire artist Nik Wallenda achieved his dream and made history by becoming the first person to walk across the massive Niagara Falls on a two-inch steel wire.  Nik was 200 feet up and walked 1550 feet across in 25 minutes while battling winds, thick mist, and the raging waters rushing downward at more than 600,000 gallons per second.  The Niagara Falls walk marks Nik Wallenda’s seventh world record, including one for the highest and longest bike ride on a wire which he performed from Newark, N.J. live on NBC’s Today Show October 15, 2008.

This feat took two years of careful planning which included geological surveys, special engineering and political lobbying of U.S. and Canadian officials to change laws in both countries that, for the past 116 years, banned daredevil stunts at Niagara Falls.  Nik says because of the odds against them to complete the stunt there was no denying that it was God’s hand that helped him get permission.  The historical event was broadcast live on ABC to over 13 million viewers, during which Nik was miked and viewers could hear his repetition of prayers and praises to God.    Nik says this is what he usually does to stay calm and peaceful during stunts.   He didn't know to what extent he would be miked.  He was just being natural without knowing he would be touching so many lives through it. It was an authentic moment for Nik and he gave all glory to God in the process.
Wire walking is in Nik's blood.  As the seventh generation of the Great Wallenda family, Nik started learning the family business at age two.   He began professionally walking the wire at 13.    He was raised as a born-again Christian.  Nik says God called him to ministry since he was young but he didn’t know in what capacity it would be.

He was blessed to be brought up in a strong Christian home, attended a private Christian school, and had a good youth group at church.  Nik says he never had any doubts or struggles with his faith.  He just trusted God.  Since he was young God opened doors for him.  God knew the way things would work out and directed Nik's steps.

When Nik was 18, he decided to carry on the family profession.  Along with his family he recreated the three- man pyramid.  He even was part of the seven-person chair pyramid performed in 1998 in Detroit that claimed the lives of two of his relatives.  In 2011, Nik completed the high wire walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico that took the life of his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, at the age of 73.  When Nik followed in his relatives’ footsteps by completing these stunts  that ended tragically, he says he felt the family needed that…the acts were to honor his family.  Nik says his great-grandfather is his inspiration.  Nik had to do San Juan walk out of respect for him. It fulfilled a dream.

Nik does everything to the best of his ability for God’s glory.  A favorite Bible verse of his is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding – He will direct paths.  Nik says God’s grace is bigger than anything.  When it came to the preparations for the Niagara Falls walk, Nik wanted to take control but he let God take control.  God opened doors for Nik and continues to do so.  It was his lifelong dream to walk Niagara and he has accomplished it.  Nothing is impossible.  When asked if he ever feels fear Nik says, “My only fear is the fear of God – the only fear that matters.”  The way he lives is always in preparation whether it's walking over thousand-foot falls or walking through life.  Nik spends time with his family praying in the mornings. 
He trusts in God.  He feels what he does with stunts is not testing God because he trains and prepares very hard.  God created him with this gift.                                                                                                                                 

The Great Wallendas trace their roots back to the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1780.   For Nik, every walk is an expression of honor to his great grandfather, the legendary Karl Wallenda who brought the Wallendas to America for The Greatest Show on Earth. During the depression era, his crowning achievement was the seven-person chair pyramid: four men standing on a wire as two pairs with two more men standing on their shoulder bars holding a woman sitting, then standing on a chair at the top of the pyramid.   The Wallendas successfully performed it for decades until January 30, 1962 when, in Detroit, the front man on the wire faltered and three men fell to the ground, two to their deaths. Karl’s son was paralyzed.

Karl continued performing "Sky Walks," walking between buildings and across stadiums, including Busch, Veterans, JFK, 3 Rivers Stadiums and the Astrodome, among others. His most famous walk was a 1200-foot long trek across the Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia, where 30,000 people watched as the 65-year-old legend performed two separate headstands at a height of over 700 feet in the air. Sadly, during a high wire walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico in March 1978, Karl, age 73, fell to his death. It was not because of his age, capabilities, or the wind that day, but because of bad rigging, a reason Nik and his father always oversee every inch of rigging themselves.

Nik was “performing” on a high wire before he was born; his mother, Delilah, was still walking the high wire six months pregnant with him. Nik’s official first performance was in 1981 at age 2 as a tiny clown carried around in a pillow case. He also began walking the wire that same year but was not permitted to perform professionally on a high wire until age 13. In 2001, he set his first world record in Kurashiki, Japan for the 4-layer 8-person pyramid on a high wire.                                                                                                                                                                 On June 4, 2011, Nik successfully completed the high wire walk in San Juan that his great-grandfather had never completed -- a 135-foot-long high-wire crossing between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel. Stunning the crowd, Nik's mother, Delilah joined him on the high wire, mother and son starting at opposite ends. When Delilah reached the middle of the wire, roughly the spot Karl had fallen, she sat down on the wire and Nik stepped over her before the two continued to opposite ends of the wire. Before finishing, Nik knelt down on the wire and blew a kiss in honor of his great-grandfather's memory.   After the feat, Nik said he was "not scared at all," but admitted that the circumstances of Karl's death had haunted him for years. "To be able to walk in his exact footsteps is an extremely huge honor, and I did this for him as much as I did it for my family to get some closure." Perhaps not for everyone. Immediately after the Niagara Falls high wire walk, Nik phoned his grandmother, Karl Wallenda’s daughter who had told him she was too frightened to watch.

MORE ABOUT NIK                                                                                                                                                 Nik is now preparing to walk across the Grand Canyon next summer and has a book coming out next spring.  Most of his work is in the summer months so he is blessed that this allows him to travel around the world with his family. His father is his rigger and his mother does his wire shoes in.  Nik's wife and children come too.  All of his children (sons 14, 11; daughter 9) can walk the wire but haven't yet committed to carry on the family business.  His wife, Erendira, is also a high energy circus performer who also comes from circus royalty.  On her mother’s side, she is the eighth generation of the Ashtons of Australia, the third oldest circus family in the world. On her father’s side, she is the seventh generation of the Vazquez trapeze artists from Mexico, known worldwide as the first to successfully complete the quadruple somersault.

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