Nik Wallenda Crosses the Little Colorado River to Support Faith, Famility, and The Legacy of Traditional Circus Acrobatics
The world watched Nik Wallenda walk a wire last night. The 34-year-old daredevil, who is descended from a long line of similar acrobatic high flyers and wire walkers, crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge on live TV. An amazing feat of daring, skill and acrobatic grace.
And a terrific platform for Wallenda to promote the things he loves: faith, family and the circus.
There is no place on earth as dedicated to the circus and circus culture as Sarasota, Florida. The adopted home of John Ringling and the former home of a Clown College, whose strenuous entrance requirements were the stuff of legends, Sarasota is an entire town that ran away and joined the circus.
Sarasota is also the home of Circus Sarasota, a relatively smalltime operation that does circuses the way they used to be. Under the big top and full of all the pomp, minus the special effects. They take great pride in exploring and displaying the wackier side of human achievement, but also work hard to portray the artistry, grace and skill of the circus.
Ronn Torossian says that is why Wallenda walks. It is not to feed his ego or promote his faith – though the mics did catch a fair bit of praying up on that wire. (Who can blame him, right?) Wallenda walks to promote a culture and a legacy that he loves absolutely.
He is a seventh-generation wire walker and circus performer. He understands the risks he is taking. Wallenda has lost “several” members of his family to performing accidents. But still he walks because he wants to do what he can to support and bring attention to his cause.M
The Wallendas, just as everyone else involved in Circus Sarasota, are strong supporters of what they see as the culture, legacy and pageantry of the traditional circus. There are others who may not like it for a variety of reasons, but the Wallendas are not reaching out to them.
And herein lies the lesson for all charities. People get involved because they are, more often than not, personally connected to the mission of the organization. In working with what they love, they are promoting something they deeply believe in.
Those crafting PR of this sort must understand this bone-deep connection and other vital rules of nonprofit PR. Torossian says, if you miss this, you miss the point entirely.