2014 Tandem BASE Jump Winner Raises Funds, Awareness for Local Family

When Nikki Walker saw a chance to help people she loved, she jumped on it, and into a chance to leap even further— 876 feet off the New River Gorge Bridge. BASE Jump winner 2014

"I've never been the type to donate money; I barely have any myself," she said. "But my time and my talents, I've always been willing to give freely."

So when she stumbled upon the Bridge Day Tandem BASE Jump competition, she entered in hopes of earning her coworker's daughter, Maggie, and their family some much needed funding after Maggie was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma just before her 4th birthday.

"What was the worst that could happen?" she said. "I thought: if I lose, then at least I have created enough buzz in the community about Maggie to get her some help from places she might not have otherwise."

And she was successful, both in rallying support and in winning the contest.

Nikki's entry video earned the most votes, which won "Maggie's Mermaids" a $1,000 donation from Subaru. In addition, her cause was featured on local news stations and shared across social media.  Another $6,000 has been donated through Go Fund Me and Redbasket, and there have also been fundraisers throughout the community.

"I've never been apart of anything so large in my life, and I can't explain to you how much this means to me," she said. "Thank you to everyone who voted for me, because really you were voting for Maggie."

Her win also means this Bridge Day, Nikki will be tandem leaping into the New River Gorge. She said she's always wanted to do something extreme like that, but it also has a deeper meaning for her.

"This is going to be a spiritual experience for me," she said. "I'm hoping the jump will help me achieve a sense of clarity and cleansing."

She said she's been through a lot over the years ("Who hasn't?" she joked), and she hopes the jump will help her leave the past behind.

"Don't get me wrong, I've got the jitters," she said. "It is over 800 feet that I have to look forward to, or down to, but that won't keep me. I want this for myself and for Maggie."

There's still time to donate to Maggie's Mermaids on Redbasket, from which her family will receive 100% of the proceeds.