The WildPlay Element Park bridge, spanning the Nanaimo River. (File photo)

Bungy jump naked in support of mental health programs

Fundraiser for B.C. Schizophrenia Society takes place March 9-10 at WildPlay Nanaimo

A fundraiser involving a naked rush of adrenaline gives hope to those living with mental illness.

In its 13th year, the annual Naked Bungy Jump to raise funds for the Victoria Branch of B.C. Schizophrenia Society, is expected to draw close to 200 people who will strip naked and jump from the 150-foot bridge at WildPlay Nanaimo.

“It definitely is an edgy way to get people involved in making a difference for people affected by mental illness,” said Hazel Meredith, executive director of the BCSS, Victoria Branch. “By reducing stigma and showcasing courage and action, this charitable event raises funds and eyebrows while increasing awareness about our cause.”

RELATED: A leap of faith to help end stigma

Since its inception, 1,990 adults have taken part in the Naked Bungy Jump and raised over $216,237, enabling BCSS Victoria to help an estimated 33,000 people by providing peer support, family support programs and information.

This year’s event is March 9-10 at WildPlay Element Parks in Nanaimo.

“WildPlay’s goal is to promote self-confidence by providing opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone and dissolve self-perceived barriers, which is why we find this to be such a suitable occasion,” said Tom Benson, CEO of WildPlay Elements Park.

ALSO READ: Families speak out in defence of B.C.’s Mental Health Act

Ben Carson, the spokesperson for this year’s Naked Bungy Jump, has a personal connection to the cause and will jump to honour the hope the society gave to his family.

“At first when my brother was diagnosed with a mental illness, our family felt like there was no hope for a bright future. But once we started to engage with all the amazing people, programs and resources available in the community we found out that recovery is possible,” said Carson.

“I’m helping because I want our community to know that there is help and there is hope.”

ALSO READ: Youth raising awareness of schizophrenia

Registration for the 13th annual BCSS Naked Bungy Jump is open and space is limited.

As the event typically sells out, organizers recommend booking early via www.wildplay.com/naked-bungy/ or by calling 1-855-595-2251.

The pre-registered rate is $55 with net funds, and all donations and pledges, going to BCSS. Participants can take part for free if they collect and turn in pledges of $200 or more before the event.

Donations this year will be matched by a longstanding anonymous donor for up to $25,000.

Spectators (ages 18 or older) can cheer on the participants for a $15 donation.

“Our message is that by having faith in oneself and relying on the support of people around you, people can overcome their fear of the unknown,” said Meredith.

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