Suzanne Venuta is undertaking a trek through the Alps to raise funds for Outward Bound. Photo supplied

Suzanne Venuta is undertaking a trek through the Alps to raise funds for Outward Bound. Photo supplied

Comox hiker hopes for new heights in Alps

Suzanne Venuta will be taking part in adventure to raise funds for Outward Bound

Suzanne Venuta has been on Outward Bound trips before, but for the next one she’s aspiring to new heights – literally.

This September she will be taking part in a 12-day trek in the Alps to raise funds for the program through the Reaching New Heights campaign. The Comox resident currently has a webpage set up to take donations for Outward Bound in connection to the adventure through the Alps. Next month, she will be among a dozen other trekkers, also Outward Bound alumni, hiking the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland.

“We’re starting in France and we’re going counter-clockwise,” she says.

Over the 12 days, they expect to get up as high as 7,500 feet and cover 170 km on the Tour Du Mont Blanc trail, which circles Mont Blanc.

“It’ll be up and down, up and down, up and down,” she says.

The trekkers will end each day at a hut with dinner prepared and a shower rather than have to pitch any tents.

RELATED STORY: Mental health advocate’s journey with dissociative identity disorder sparks conversation

RELATED STORY: Experience guides mental health advocate

Beyond the experience itself, Venuta wants to raise funds to support Outward Bounds charitable programs, such as the Women of Courage program in which she took part. This supports women who have undergone abuse or trauma at some point in their lives. Other Outward Programs support Indigenous youth, Indigenous women, under-served youth and veterans.

“It all goes into the same pot,” she says.

To get ready for the event, Venuta is working on her cardio, strength and balance, as well as researching the area. During the interview, she has a Mont Blanc guidebook at hand, ready to plumb its pages for information about the region.

For Venuta, it’s an easy choice to support Outward Bound.

“Therapy was fine, but I needed something else,” he says. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am without Outward Bound.”

The program helped her get her life back. She took part in one adventure with other women who had suffered trauma or abuse. No simple escape to the woods, it was a retreat in the truest sense of the word. Without other distractions around, she and others had to work through their past and take part in exercises aimed at building trust and confidence. She has since gone on several other adventures through the program.

These days she writes blogs about mental health and can get up in public as a motivational speaker to talk about her experiences as well as help raise funds for the cause. She has been recognized as the 2018 Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back winner for her work.

All of the money she raises for the trek will go to Outward Bound, as her trip is being covered by sponsors and scholarship money. This way, donors know every dollar supports the programming. Venuta’s goal is to raise $5,000, and she was just over the midway point by the end of July. For more information or a link to her fundraising page for Reaching New Heights campaign, go to https://www.suzannevenuta.com/