by Dave Preston
They arrived with grins and gumption. Within minutes they wore pink pasties, body paint, fuzzy boots, angel wings or absolutely nothing at all.
Girls gone wild met women with a message as scores of ladies from late teens to 73 joined together Thursday for the exhilaration of ziplining, the freedom of doing so nude and the opportunity to raise thousands of dollars for breast cancer research.
Some women bore it all, choosing to zip 380 feet over Peachland’s Deep Creek Gorge wearing nothing but a harness and sunglasses. Modesty prevailed for others, who preferred bikinis or carefully applied pink duct tape. None of it mattered for the participants, who seemed to revel in the camaraderie of the rare and bare event.
ZipZone Adventure Park hosted the second annual nude ziplining event. Last year, just a handful participated. This year 84 women joined in.
While nude ziplining might seem like the type of thing younger, more adventurous women would take part in, all age groups of adults were represented Thursday. One in particular became the focal point of what the day was all about.
“Helen is my hero,” said one young woman.
“When I’m older, I want to be just like Helen,” said another.
Helen is Helen Saunders and at age 73, she was the oldest participant in Thursday’s nude ziplining event.
“My neices and nephews don’t want me to go naked. Neither does my son,” said Saunders, who was able to raise $500 on her own for the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Twenty three years ago, Saunders lost a breast to breast cancer.
“I’ve lived 23 years longer than maybe I should have,” said Saunders, who stressed the importance of self examinations and early detection.
“I’ve been so fortunate,” said Saunders. “I celebrate every year because it’s another year I’ve lived that maybe I wouldn’t have had.”
Losing a breast to cancer hasn’t held Saunders back. “I look at it that I lost a breast, but I’m still the same person I was before.”
“I think it’s a good cause,” said Nicky Hazle, who works in Peachland and was joined by several coworkers at the event.
Hazle said she mostly raised her $615 in donations by asking people at work to contribute. “They were more than willing to make a donation,” she said.
A few times Hazle said she wondered why she was going nude ziplining and said Thursday she was surprised how quick all the women took their clothes off.
Hazle said it was an empowering experience and, besides, “How often are you going to have the chance to go ziplining naked?”
Participants were herded into two teepees to be outfitted with a safety harness and helmet. After a group picture and some instruction, they were herded off to Hang Time, ZipZone’s and Canada’s highest zipline.
One after another, the 84 women were hooked up to the first zipline for their trip across the gorge. All guides for the event were female.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat!” said Saunders, after she completed her second trip across a zipline. “It’s amazing.”
Saunders chose to take her top off for her ziplining adventure and said, “It’s sort of like skinny dipping.”
Participants came from all over the Okanagan and as far away as Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
In total, the group raised $15,016 for breast cancer research, according to Kevin Bennett, ZipZone president.
The top five fundraisers will each receive two complimentary tickets to the Dancin’ Barefoot Music Festival on July 14, featuring Streetheart. They are:
- Maureen Hooper, $1,680
- Amber Bigelo, $1,105
- Carol Brown $1,085
- Nicky Hazle $615
- Shannon Alexander $615
Bennett told reporters that he’s already planning a bigger event for 2013.
Editor’s Note: More pictures of the event can be found in the Photo Gallery.