The Nik Madsen Memorial Endowment for Whole Heart Leadership

Nik, Rafting expedition in the Grand Canyon

A 2016 UC Santa Cruz graduate, Nik Madsen was a 2013 Wilderness Orientation (WO) Volunteer with the Adventure Rec at Athletics & Recreation, became a Rec Leader in 2014 and was preparing to return for his third season as WO field staff.  

Then on Friday, July 20, 2018, Nik tragically died in an automobile accident while traveling in the country of Colombia. Nik turned 24 years old the day before his death. 

Nik was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and joyful people that has ever walked into the Adventure Rec office. Nik's smile genuinely communicated his warmth and love. Nik's life was a light to the Rec community and all he met. His spirit of joy, kindness and enthusiasm for adventure will live on in our memories and actions. 


To celebrate Nik's life and to empower other students' leadership development, Nik's parents, Lars and Pam, and his brother, Kristian, have established the Nik Madsen Memorial Endowment for Whole Heart Leadership.

The purpose of this endowment is to support leadership development opportunities for Adventure Rec and Wilderness Orientation student leaders, and to provide financial support that makes those opportunities possible. 

Student leaders receiving this support demonstrate qualities reflective of Nik Madsen - passionate about exploring the outdoors, eager for adventure, committed to environmental stewardship and capable of inspiring others to do likewise. Leadership development opportunities include, but will not be limited to, experiential opportunities through Wilderness Orientation or other Recreation programs.

***Learn more about student recipients of the Madsen endowment awards.***

To make this fund a true endowment, $25,000 needed to be raised within the first five years. By the end of 2021, the fund reached over $110,000! Thank you so much to all who have contributed. The annual interest earned on the invested endowment will be available to fund leadership development for Adventure Rec and Wilderness Orientation student leaders.

Will you consider donating to the Nik Madsen Memorial Endowment for Whole Heart Leadership?


If you prefer, checks may be written to "UCSC Foundation" with the memo "PE062ENDF" and mailed to:

UCSC Adventure Rec
Athletics & Recreation
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Thank you for being a part of celebrating the life and love of Nik Madsen and helping to inspire future generations of student leaders.