Bridge Day Travelers Trek Miles, States, Continents
Jumpers alone represented hometowns from all across the globe, including 41 states and 8 countries.
"I\'ve always wanted to do it, and I finally decided it was time to come out," said Steven Leufek, who came from New Jersey to make his first ever BASE jump.
"I can\'t wait. I\'m definitely nervous, definitely scared, definitely excited. A little everything."
Steven\'s been skydiving for a few years, and was hooked from the start.
"I kind of knew before I did it that I was going to keep doing it," he said. "I can\'t wait, and hopefully I get a few of these (jumps) in here!"
The sport really to pulls people in. Christian Newman, who was inspired to begin BASE jumping after watching Bridge Day as a spectator, said he travels around the world for the thrill of the leap— Moab, Malaysia, Europe, and all over. He\'s done 470 jumps, from 103 different things.
His trips to Bridge Day, he said, were mostly about seeing friends.
"Honestly, the jumps are almost secondary to seeing friends I don\'t see that often," he said. "That\'s kind of my favorite part, actually.
"When you\'re a BASE jumper, you meet people in your travels, and they become your friend in one way or another, and when you have a big congregation of them, you see people you haven\'t seen. Like friends you forgot you had. There\'s a lot of good people in this sport."
BASE jumpers aren\'t the only ones who travel far for the festival. Beckie Cliff and her friends come from Michigan for the spectacle, because a few of them are WV natives.
"I\'ve been coming down here for 20-some years," she said. "I think it\'s pretty cool. These people are crazy, though. I\'d never do it. I love to watch, though! I love it all."
This year\'s tandem BASE jump winner is also a long-time out-of-state commuter to the event. Though she lives in Indiana, she and several friends were hooked on WV and Bridge Day after a Gauley rafting trip in 1991.
"We had the most awesome time that going to WV, it became a yearly girls\' trip," she said. "We loved the people and activities so much that we could not wait to keep going back, and each year we would bring other friends."
Kathy even moved to WV for a few years, and this year got to be a part of the action as a jumper.
How far would you travel to go to Bridge Day?