Terry & Delilah Troffer, Nik Wallenda’s Parents: 5 Fast Facts

Nik Wallenda's parents

Nik Wallenda Instagram / The Today Show Nik Wallenda's parents are Terry Troffer and Delilah Wallenda.

Nik Wallenda’s parents are Terry Troffer and Delilah Wallenda. His mother and father play a huge role in his high-wire walks. Delilah, a high-wire walker herself, has walked on the same wire as Wallenda in some stunts. As for Terry, also a former high-wire walker, he serves as the safety coordinator for Wallenda’s stunts, and talks to Wallenda through an ear-piece while he performs.

To the Today Show in 2013, Troffer talked about what type of role he played in his son’s stunts, and why it’s so important for them to communicate while Wallenda walks. “We communicate back and forth,” he said. “If he’s got a question, I try to look for the answer for him right away.”

When asked how important it was to have his father in his ear while he walked, Wallenda said, “It’s very important, because he can talk to me about pacing…the fact that if I do speed up or slow down…so that I don’t create rhythms in that cable. And really, [he’s] a voice of reason.”

Wallenda is married with three children. On March 4, he will attempt to walk over a volcano, in what many are saying is his most death-defying stunt yet. You can get info on how to watch it without cable here.

Here’s what you need to know about his parents, Terry and Delilah Troffer:


1. Wallenda’s Father, Terry Troffer, Taught Him How to Walk on the Wire

Wallenda’s father, Terry Troffer, was the one who taught him to walk the wire as a child. Troffer has remained intimately involved in his son’s high-wire stunts, and helped him plan a number of the stunts featured on Nik Wallenda: Beyond Niagra. 

Troffer has often served as a safety coordinator for Wallenda’s stunts. In the first episode of Beyond Niagra, Troffer passed out from heat and stress before a stunt, and Delilah had to fill in.

Before Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon, Troffer spoke with the Today Show about his son’s stunts. “I’m really not that worried,” he said. “I know his capabilities. I’ve been through it. I walked the wire for 38 years, so I kind of know what’s going through his mind.”


2. The Wallenda Tradition of High-Wire Walking Comes From Wallenda’s Mother’s Side of the Family

Walking a Wire with Your Mother | Skyscraper LiveOn Sunday, November 2 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT, Nik Wallenda takes on the Windy City. Blindfolded. | Visit http://www.skyscraperlive.com/#mkcpgn=ytdsc1 for more Skyscraper Live! Nik pays tribute to his mother and what it's like for both of them to risk it all, sometimes on the same wire. More Videos: http://www.skyscraperlive.com/videos.html Take the Walk – 360-Degree View from the Wire: http://www.skyscraperlive.com/360.html Get to Know Nik: http://www.skyscraperlive.com/nik.html Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SkyscraperLive Twitter: https://twitter.com/SkyscraperLive2014-10-24T18:24:02.000Z

Delilah Wallenda is Wallenda’s mother. It’s her side of the family that boasts a tradition of high-wire stunts, which is likely why Wallenda took his mother’s maiden name for his own last name.

According to a profile of the Wallenda family by ABC, a number of Wallenda family members walk the wire: Wallenda’s uncle, Tino; Wallenda’s grandmother, Jenny; and Delilah, herself. All of Wallenda’s siblings have also walked the wire, though they don’t do it professionally.

The Wallendas represent seven generation of high-wire walkers, ABC reports. Wallenda can trace his family lineage all the way back to the 1700s, when his family was a traveling circus troupe in Europe.


3. Terry Has Said in the Past That His Son’s Stunts Make Him ‘Concerned’ For His Safety

Though Terry Troffer most often says that he has supreme faith in his son’s abilities, he will occasionally admit having a small bit of concern for the danger inherent in the stunts — and as the safety coordinator, he does have the right to pull the plug if he deems the conditions are unsafe.

“Right before he goes, I’m going to check with all of our different departments,” he said. “I’m going to check into weather conditions…if we have storms that might develop, I want to know how far away the lightning strikes are.”

Troffer said he also talks to his son to see how he’s doing. “It’s just a matter of doing a countdown-type of thing,” he said. “You know, just checking in.”


4. Delilah’s Grandfather, Karl Wallenda, Died Doing a High-Wire Walk

ABC News – "Karl Wallenda" (1978)Here is an ABC News report on the death of circus performer and tightrope walker Karl Wallenda, (of The Flying Wallendas) who fell to his death while performing at the age of 73. From Wikipedia: "Karl attempted a walk between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a wire stretched 37 metres (121 ft) above the pavement, but fell to his death when winds exceeded 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). The Wallenda family attributes the tragedy to "several misconnected guy ropes along the wire" and not the windy conditions. A film crew from WAPA-TV in San Juan taped the fall, and the video, featuring anchorman Guillermo Jose Torres' anguished narration of the fall, circled the world. Rick Wallenda went back the following year and completed the walk successfully. He was quoted as saying, "Life is being on the wire, everything else is just waiting." Harry Reasoner introduces the story and James Walker reports. Also includes at the end after a channel change a short report from another station, which looks like the local Rockford NBC affillate WTVO Channel 17. This aired on local Rockford, IL TV on Wednesday, March 22nd 1978. (not Chicago, but close enough) About The Museum of Classic Chicago Television: The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. Even though (mostly) short clips are displayed here, we preserve the entire broadcasts in our archives – the complete programs with breaks (or however much is present on the tape), for historical purposes. For information on how to help in our mission, to donate or lend tapes to be converted to DVD, and to view more of the 4,500+ (and counting) video clips available for viewing in our online archive, please visit us at: http://www.fuzzymemories.tv/index.php?contentload=donate2015-09-19T22:54:58.000Z

WARNING: in the video above, you can see the broadcast in which Karl Wallenda, Delilah’s grandfather and Wallenda’s great-grandfather, fell to his death from a high wire in 1978.

Wallenda has talked about how his great-grandfather, arguably the most famous Wallenda family member after him, impacted his decision to become a high-wire walker. To ABC, he said, “He just didn’t have the strength to hold on. If he had the strength, if it was 20 years before, he’d be alive to this day.”

Wallenda remains convinced that his great-grandfather wouldn’t regret the way he died. “At seven generations, just because we’ve had some tragedy, we’re not going to give up that easily,” he said. “I know that he is up there and he’s very, very proud.”

Wallenda’s death wasn’t the first incident of tragedy that befell the family from their stunts. In 1962, Wallenda and six others participated in a human pyramid of high-wire walkers, which included multiple family members. The formation collapsed.

The Herald Tribune wrote of the tragedy,

Dead in the wreckage below was nephew Dieter Schepp and son-in-law Dick Faughnan. Adopted son Mario would ride a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Instantly-widowed daughter Jenny called her dad a murderer for allowing Dieter, the ostensible weak link, to walk the line that day.

Karl said to the newspaper in 1970 that this incident haunted him, and was now the central reason for why he never looked down. “There is a picture in my mind of the ring down there . . . and the boys,” he said. “They are broken and still, and around them there are the balance poles and bars and the chair . . . just pieces. That picture is in my mind and I never lose it. If I look down once I know I will see it again . . . those boys. If I look I go mad. I don’t look.”


5. Delilah & Wallenda Have Done a High-Wire Walk Together in the Past

Nik Wallenda, his mom Delilah perform final high-wire act together in TampaTo commemorate the grand opening of the new $700 million tower at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Nik Wallenda and his mom Delilah will cross from the old building to the new one in dramatic fashion.2019-10-03T17:34:56.000Z

Wallenda and his mother, Delilah, have done a number of stunts together, even walking on the same high wire at the same time as one another.

Wallenda often posts about his mother on Instagram.  In December, he wrote, “You are an inspiration to us all! I love you Mom, Happy Birthday!”

READ NEXT: Nik Wallenda’s Kids & Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


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