Nightly News   |  October 20, 2013

Paraplegic base jumps on annual Bridge Day

Eighty thousand watched in West Virginia as jumpers participated in the 34th Annual Bridge Day. But just why is this extreme sport so popular?   NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tens of thousands of people gathered in west virginia this weekend to watch and take part in what many consider the world's most dangerous sport. it is call base jumping and when you see it, you kind of wonder why anyone would take plunge. gabe gutierrez was there and found some answers.

>> reporter: this is life off the edge. a spectacle that drew some 80,000 onlookers to the new river gorge this week in west virginia . bridge day , the largest extreme sports event of its kind.

>> amazing.

>> reporter: why in the world would somebody do this?

>> we only live once. enjoy it.

>> reporter: b.a.s.e. jumping has been taking off since the '70s. one study pegged it five times more ricky than sky diving . the more the altitude, the more can go wrong.

>> your feet are shaking, your hands are shaking. there is a tangible adrenaline rush .

>> reporter: b.a.s.e. is an acronym for the wild thing people jump from. buildings, antennas, spans or bridges, and earth. cat thannan from arizona just finish her 193nd drop.

>> reporter: how did you get into this.

>> i always wanted to jump off thing since i was a kid.

>> reporter: he's been b.a.s.e. jumping for 19 years but even more remarkable, as he paraplegic after his parachute didn't open.

>> that was the first question from my doctor, how long do you think it will be before i can jump again. and she said lonnie, i'm sorry to tell you but you suffered a spinal cord injury and you'll never jump again. and i looked at her and i said i'm sorry. you don't know who you're talking to. i will jump again.

>> reporter: this time with his custom wheelchair attached. 876 feet down. unbelievably, a perfect landing.

>> never give up. don't give up on your dreams. anything is possible.

>> reporter: jumpers reaching for the sky as they fall to the earth. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, fateville, west virginia .