NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - What led Nik Wallenda to become a tightrope walker?
Despite being told he would never cross Niagara Falls, Wallenda took those negative sentiments and turned them into something positive.
"There were mountains in the way and the mountains started to move and I think people started to realize, this is big... this is a massive force," he said.
The daredevil says he followed the family motto: "Never give up." It's a three-word phrase passed down for seven generations and over 200 years. They are words uttered by his great grandfather, the late Karl Wallenda.
Nik said, "I do a lot of this out of respect and to pay tribute to him, the things he did to open the doors for me to do what I do."
Doors opened for the patriarch Wallenda in 1928. He was discovered in Europe by John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus. He traveled overseas and brought the Wallendas back to America.
"The Wallendas are beloved in the circus family," said Scott Gardiner, who works for the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.
The Wallenda family has an exhibit all their own. Each piece of history has a story behind it, including Karl's glitzy pink and yellow lame outfit worn during one of his last performances. It was donated to the museum after crossing the Tallulah Gorge.
"Tthe gasps that people would have. The wonderment, the amazment that people would have... just the sheer spectical that people were seeing," Gardiner envisioned. "How could people do such a thing? You know, that's the beauty."
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