Patti Hillman is terrified of heights. But come June 20 she will be stepping outside her comfort zone - and her clothing - suspended more than 100 feet above ground to raise money for breast cancer research. She's already gathered close to $600 to participate in the ZipZone Peachland's 'Go Bare in the Air' fundraiser.
"When a woman has breast cancer they're completely out of their comfort zone; they lose their breasts," she says.
Eight years ago Hillman found out her 28-year-old sister was diagnosed. It took three doctor's visits before her sister was able to get a mammogram.
"They told her it was just a cyst and don't worry about it," Hillman says. Her sister ended up having a left-side mastectomy when the exam revealed stage-two cancer in three out of five lymph nodes.
Helping her sister, who now lives in Calgary, changed Hillman's life, from assisting with cancer treatments to filling prescriptions and then later seeing her sister make a strong recovery, organizing fundraiser walks and even giving birth to her first child.
Ziplining in Peachland will be the first time Hillman herself raises money for the cause.
“I've never zip-lined before in my life, I'm terrified of heights - and then not being fully clothed,” Hillman says.
Women planning on ziplining in the nude are required to pledge $250 in funds but Hillman sees no challenge in that.
“That's not high enough for me,” she says.
Having lived in Penticton all her life, Hillman knew right away she could rally support from her community. She says she called up her friends giving them a head's up: "I have you down for this much money.”
Such an attention-grabbing event injects a much-needed spirit of hope for those affected by cancer, Hillman says. Dealing with doctors can be grim.
"They don't leave much room for the hopeful side,” she says. Naked ziplining, on the other hand, offers excitement, fun and a challenge to take on with other women.
"Don't do it alone," Hillman says. "Bring your friends."
Angela Sandor and Deanna Carloni, two of Hillman's best friends from childhood, showed no hesitation about joining her for the event.
One friend refused to donate money to her campaign.
"Absolutely not," her friend told her. "I'll be doing it with you.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.