The Nik Madsen Memorial Endowment for Whole Heart Leadership

September 07, 2018

By , Associate Director of Recreation & Physical Education 

Nik rafting the Grand Canyon, 2017
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Nik and friends searching for the solar eclipse
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Nik spicing up a foggy day on Sea Kayaking Wilderness Orientation
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Eyeing Mount Silliman during Wilderness Orientation
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Celebrating with his WO group after returning to campus
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A 2016 UC Santa Cruz graduate, Nik Madsen was a 2013 Wilderness Orientation (WO) Volunteer with the Recreation program at OPERS, became a Recreation 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 Recreation office. Nik's smile genuinely communicated his warmth and love. Nik's life was a light to the Recreation 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 Recreation 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.

To make this fund a true endowment, $25,000 needed to be raised within the first five years. As of March, 2019, over $50,000 has already been raised! 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 Recreation and Wilderness Orientation student leaders.

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

Make a Gift

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

UCSC Recreation
OPERS
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.

With gratitude,

Dustin Smucker