Death Wire Brings Life Full Circle ?
It takes a spectacle to want to spectate, a death survivor challenging death to make it spectacular, and the headline “Are These Guys Going to Die?” to remind you that consequences are serious.
But you don’t know the half of it.
If you overheard a man’s voice say, “My girlfriend’s elephant is too old to breed,” your ears would perk up, your left eye would squint in disbelief, and, while turning your head to see who it was, you’d ask yourself, “Did I hear that right?”
When you did, you’d find a stocky man in a red silk shirt smiling back at you, continuing with the words, “The U.S. elephant gene pools are in trouble because it’s illegal to import elephant semen.”
Yes, this was a real conversation.
The man speaking was Blake Wallenda.
Chances are, you haven’t met anyone in the world like Blake. Hearing him talk only takes seconds to recognize that his conversation topics aren’t the only extraordinary thing about him.
You see, Blake grew up in a world straight out of children’s stories. In that world, he developed a rare skill.
Blake’s a Highwire Walker.
Blake is the great-grandson of Karl Wallenda – a skywalker known for performing dangerous feats and breaking world records. The legacy of the Wallendas goes back over 300 years. Blake carries on the bold tradition of his family despite Karl dying when he fell from a highwire, other Wallendas dying or becoming crippled for life, and himself nearly dying when he fell in 2017 from a human highwire pyramid but was able to stop himself by grabbing and holding onto the wire.
On Aug. 10, Blake’s about to attempt something so uniquely dangerous with Wall of Death motorcycle daredevil Kyle Ives at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip that you’ll have to see it to grasp the magnitude of the feat taking place.
It’s a story, unlike any story in the history of time. A real once-in-a-lifetime tongue wagger, “Whoahhhhhh” maker, and eye popper because what Blake and Kyle are about to do has never been done and never will be again. Only one thing is predictable. If you’re there, it’s a tale you’ll tell for the rest of your life.
The additional surprise is that Blake Wallenda and Kyle Ives aren’t where this story begins.
It starts with a man named Shawn Ives. A throat cancer survivor. And Kyle’s father. Shawn was mentored by Karl Wallenda and went on to walk highwire. He later became a motorcycle daredevil and now runs the rare Wall of Death daredevil exhibition with Kyle and his other son, Cody.
Shawn Ives (right)
Shawn’s life took a twist a few days before the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally when he felt a lump in his neck while setting up the Wall of Death at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. It was cancer.
He spent the following year battling the disease and won, but if you ask Shawn about his fight against cancer, he chokes up and forces out the words, “It’s like having the worst hangover you’ve ever had, every day, for a year.”
He will also tell you, “When you go through something like cancer, you need someone beside you, rooting for you. I’m grateful for my wife. And proud of my sons.”
In addition to working with the Wallendas, Shawn’s family had bonded with the Knievel family over the years. Kyle and Cody learned to ride and jump motorcycles at an early age. According to Shawn, one day, Evel Knievel was sitting on the back of their truck bed, watching the two Ives kids jump their motorcycles, when Shawn leaned into Evel and said, “I hope that someday my kids will be as good as you.”
Evel responded, “From what I can see, they’re already better.”
In 2022, Evel’s son Robbie Knievel died of pancreatic cancer. Robbie had jumped at the Buffalo Chip many times over the years, including over its main stage and in its amphitheater.
When Robbie passed away, Shawn had an idea that would bring all of the elements of his life together full circle: Knievel, a tribute to Robbie, his time with the Wallendas, his family legacy, the Buffalo Chip, and cancer fundraising.
Shawn dreamt up the idea that he would face death again. This time by choice.
Shawn approached Woody, the CEO of The Chip, “I want to do a jump at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip to raise funds for cancer and pay homage to Robbie.”
Rod and Shawn concocted a plan and agreed that a run-of-the-mill ramp-to-ramp jump wouldn’t suffice.
They would “need to do something truly spectacular.”
A little research revealed that on October 20, 1973, Evel Knievel cleared 13 cars with a broken upper back while Karl Wallenda wire-walked overhead.
This inspired Shawn to invite Blake Wallenda to high-wire walk over the Chip’s amphitheater before the Def Leppard concert.
Naturally, Shawn volunteered his son, Kyle!
The stakes were high, but both Kyle and Blake embraced the challenge. The jump was on. They aimed to accomplish a life-threatening performance even history’s greatest daredevils hadn’t dared before.
They would risk their lives attempting The Death Wire Daredevil Spectacular!
To spice up the show, Shawn announced he would also do a 10-car jump on an HD XG-750 street bike.
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation agreed to create a Ride For Kids to the Chip fundraiser to allow riders to raise money on their journey to Sturgis to see the performance.
It’s not hard to imagine what will happen if they fail. However, the glory of success is unparalleled if they make it.
No one, especially no true biker, should want to miss this incredible event.
“Thinking back on the moments in my life and knowing that they are all wrapped up in this one event is unbelievable to me.” reflects Shawn, “What we are doing makes me incredibly proud.”
Kyle and Blake are not tempting death just for thrills and glory. Their act carries meaning. They’re risking death while so many fight to avoid it to remind us all that life eventually comes full circle.
Cancer may have taken Robbie, and it once held Shawn by the throat, but their extraordinary performance symbolizes their love for a life worth fighting for. The circle will complete when Motorcycle Daredevil Kyle Ives Jumps over Blake Wallenda at The Death Wire Daredevil Spectacular on Aug. 10 at the Legendary Buffalo Chip.
They will attempt what the greatest daredevils never dared.
You can be there to witness the Death Wire Daredevil Spectacular and support the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Ride for Kids.
Find out how you can support the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Ride for Kids at https://team.curethekids.org/event/2023-ride-for-kids-to-the-chip/e485746