Wallendas take young performer under their wing

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Posted: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 9:00 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hailey Warren is just 10 years old, but already the Wallendas see something special in her, and Hailey has had her eye on them, as well.

Branch Rickey once said that, "luck is the residue of design." It is lucky that Hailey Warren and her family lived near the Wallenda compound, and now she has designs of joining their high wire act.

"They lived close by and they always watched our practices. They asked if we could teach her, and we said, 'sure'," says performer and trainer Rick Wallenda.

So, Hailey's mom, knowing the answer she would get, talked to little Hailey. "My mom asked me if I was interested in being in the circus, and I was very interested."

The important thing to note here is that Rick and Rietta Wallenda are not looking to teach anyone in the art of being a Wallenda -- it has to be someone who they see as being special. "I don't train as a school. I train only for the purpose of bringing them into the troop," says Rick.

Being a Wallenda doesn't just mean that they can walk the high wire with flair, but it is a mindset. Hailey has that and more. “She is a perfectionist. She will not quit until she has it right. She has all the characteristics: coordination, talent, and the passion," says Rietta Wallenda.

Hailey has performed locally, but this summer she will tour with the Wallendas. She realizes even at this young age what an opportunity it is. “It’s just a great joy to work with them."

Rick and Rietta feel the same about her. She has "it", whatever it is. "Absolutely! Chutzpah we call it. She can do this stuff."

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