Ann Curry stood with her toes on the edge of a bridge, 170 feet above the River Tees in England. She looked at the horizon, thought of her charity, and dropped into nothingness.
She was harnessed to bungee cords and had been told it was safe, but it was still a leap of faith. More than an hour later, in the TODAY studio in New York, TODAY’s Hoda Kotb wanted to know what she was thinking before she jumped.
“I was really thinking, ‘I hope this does some good,’ ” she said. “If you’re going to do something as crazy and stupid as that, you want to feel it was worth it. I wanted some good to come out of it, and I think it did.”
She raised more than $10,000 through her adventure for Save the Children, a charity whose work in war zones she’d visited she admired, and The United Way.
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She also inspired the awe of Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, who watched the jump live on Monday with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and David Gregory.
“I can’t follow that. I’ve done nothing,” said Hanks, who was in New York to talk about his new movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” for which he and his co-stars, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, received Golden Globe nominations.
The movie, based on the true story of the Texas congressman who led the covert fight to expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the 1980s, was also nominated for Best Comedy.
Video: Tom Hanks bares all “She is Superwoman as far as I’m concerned,” Hanks said. “I’m just some goofy actor who pretends to do things. Ann is actually doing it.”
Curry was the final member of the TODAY crew to try something crazy as part of the “TODAY Gets Extreme” series. It began with Vieira riding down a hill inside an 11-foot ball called a Zorb. Matt Lauer followed by trying to sail surf, but without a great deal of success. Roker went third, taking a 20-minute hang-gliding flight while harnessed in next to an instructor.
But the consensus was that Curry, who earlier this year had braved 50-degree-below-zero temperatures at the South Pole when TODAY went to the ends of the earth, outdid them all.
She had traveled over the weekend to Middlesbrough, England, where the U.K. Bungee Club runs a jumping concession off the Transporter Bridge in the blue-collar industrial city. Her presence merited news stories in the local newspaper and brought out a number of spectators, one of whom gave Curry £10 for Save the Children after she had been brought ashore after her jump.
TODAY followed her as she was fitted with a safety harness on the ground and began her climb up the 210 steps to the top of the bridge, then watched as U.K. Bungee Club operations manager James Field harnessed her ankles and gave her final instructions.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Field said when asked why people do it. “Bungee jumping is one of those tick-boxes to do in life, when you’ve done it, you can tick the box.”
Field said he’s had that once-in-a-lifetime experience about 500 times by now. And when Curry jumped, she knew why.
She followed Field’s advice to the letter, keeping her head back and her arms straight out —“The big James Bond pose,” Field called it.
She whooped a bit as she fell some 120 feet to the limit of the bungee cords, but didn’t scream or squeal.
Before she’d even bottomed out, she was exclaiming, “Oh, my good lord! This is fantastic! This is fantastic!”
Ann's stamp of approval
As she yo-yoed over the river, she told viewers, “I recommend it, actually. Hey, guys, this is actually fun. I feel all the blood in my body in my brain. I feel like a bird.”
She did admit that there is a moment of uncertainty at the beginning. “That first moment when you’re falling, you do have your whole life flash before your eyes.”
“What did you see?” Hanks asked.
“A dark, empty hole,” Curry joked. She was lowered into a boat on the river and released from the harness. As she said goodbye while motoring to shore, Vieira, Roker, Gregory and Hanks talked about “Charlie Wilson’s War.” One of the scenes that’s getting a lot of comment in the media involves a full rear view of a naked Hanks.
Vieira wanted to know if Hanks had a butt double for the scene or if that was really his backside.
“You think it’s brave to jump off a bridge?” he asked. “Show your butt on national air.”
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