Nikki Ammerman: A Saluda inspiration

Published 7:52 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Nikki Ammerman learns to fly as one of many things on her new found bucket list. (photo submitted)

Editor’s note: The Bulletin has asked Bonnie Bardos to help us enrich the paper by writing additional columns each week. So, on the weeks you normally would not read her regular Saluda News and Notations, you will now get to enjoy a personal profile on a Saluda resident or community organization. We hope you enjoy these articles as much as we know you do her regular columns.
Imagine changing your life from cigarette addiction and constant tiredness to flying planes and scuba diving instead! Saluda resident Nikki Ammerman did just that: a long-time smoker, busy mother of three (Kelly, captain at Saluda Volunteer Fire Department; Tiffany, a college student; and Garrett, a freshman at East Henderson High) she had a ‘wake-up’ call and hasn’t looked back.
Making life changes happened, she reaffirms, “Because I tried to quit smoking for 25 years and finally quit. I unlocked the key… which made me much happier.”
Replacing smoking with swimming at the YMCA, she saved money for scuba dive lessons which she never thought she could do. Then she signed up for a rescue recovery course. It was all therapy, and those cigarettes are a distant memory — in their place have been bucket list adventures, non-stop; flight lessons, scuba diving and blueberry farming. All on top of her six-day-a-week post office job!
How does she do it?
Full of life and energy, Nikki doesn’t stop. Born in England into a U.S. military family, she grew up traveling, but had deep local roots with her grandmother in Hendersonville, who served as a steady influence.
By 10th grade, Nikki moved in with her grandmother: a well-known artist who founded the French Club and Arts League in Hendersonville years ago, plus knew how to take care of injured birds, including owls.
“My grandmother was everything” Nikki reminiscences, and she continues to live by her grandmother’s creed of “There’s nothing you can’t do. Just try it!”
Recently a long-time dream happened: flight lessons.
After a summer of selling tomatoes at the Saluda Tailgate Market, Nikki attended a Farm-To-Table Supper in Polk County, with a silent auction fundraiser. To make a long story short, to surprise his mom, son Garrett ended up getting in a final bid on flight lessons.
After the first introductory lesson and steering the plane: Nikki was hooked.
“This is what I wanted to do all my life! It’s my soul. It’s just wow!” she joyously exclaimed.
She means it too. Blue eyes sparkle as she emphatically notes, “People are missing out — they’re waiting for the end of their life — I’m living my life! Do something. It’s out there. Lose the fear and do it.”
Her grandmother would be proud.
Thank you for reading this column! As ever, the goal is to make you, dear reader, feel like you’re enjoying a front porch visit with me (with colder weather here, we’ll have to move inside and find a cozy spot in the house for hot tea instead.). You can contact me at; or 749-1153, visit my website at for more writing and art, or find me on facebook.

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