Nik Wallenda training to walk across the Grand Canyon on a steel cable in Sarasota, Florida, last year. (Facebook)
Daily headlines about ISIS, Ebola, recession, school shootings and conflict reminiscent of the Cold War have cast a general pall over the news flow, creating a heightened sense of fear of the unknown. Some look to next week’s election to usher in change; others prone to listening to their fears are being driven to despair.
Amidst all of the bad news there is the silver lining of stories of selfless service and sacrifice for others, such as the brave medical workers who continue to care for patients stricken with a new virus that wasn’t even in our lexicon three months ago. Some of these individuals are driven by their sense of medical mission and duty; others by their personal faith.
This week, I encountered an example of extreme faith: Nik Wallenda, the self-proclaimed “King of the Highwire” is a member of the Flying Wallenda family who have worked as circus performers for seven generations. Earlier this month he announced plans to walk a tightrope more than 50 stories up over the Chicago skyline this Sunday evening, broadcast live onDiscovery Channel in 220 countries.
Of course this is not Mr. Wallenda’s first attempt to perform a death-defying feat. Last year he balanced atop a 2-inch cable stretched across a quarter mile span over the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon. The year before, he became the first person in history to complete a high-wire walk across the brink of Niagara Falls.
Nik Wallenda is also no stranger to tragedy. His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell to his death at the age of 73 during a performance in Puerto Rico. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have also died while walking high wires.
Written by A. Larry Ross
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