Zip­ping along

Char­lot­te­town’s He­len Keat­ing turns to thrill seek­ing to mark her 75th birth­day

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DAY THE GUARDIAN

There is plenty of zip left in this 75-year-old Char­lot­te­town woman.

On Tues­day, He­len Keat­ing cel­e­brated her mile­stone birth­day more than a month late by climb­ing up wooden steps to a plat­form about 35 feet above ground be­fore un­flinch­ingly hurtling along a zip line for 600 feet of adren­a­line rush.

“It was very ad­ven­tur­ous and I’m glad that I did it,’’ said Keat­ing, dressed in jeans and sneak­ers on sock­less feet.

“I’m su­per glad that I did it. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out.’’

There was lit­tle like­li­hood of cold feet.

Keat­ing was sim­ply too de­ter­mined to seek out — and ex­e­cute — a good thrill.

Born in Mil­lview, Keat­ing says she and her 10 sib­lings never did any­thing ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing while grow­ing up.

“We never even got to town (Char­lot­te­town) un­til we were in our teens,’’ she says.

Her adult­hood, which in­cluded be­ing the mother of one and spend­ing many years as a house­wife, also lacked any real heart-pound­ing ex­ploits.

Her ad­vanc­ing years have brought on a call to ad­ven­ture.

A few years back, she saw a TV pro­gram fea­tur­ing zip lin­ing in Costa Rica. The thrillseek­ing ac­tiv­ity looked like an ad­ven­ture Keat­ing could will­ingly seek out.

When she learned ear­lier this year that zip lin­ing is avail­able on P.E.I. at the Rise and Climb Ad­ven­ture Course in Corn­wall, she de­cided to take the leap.

Her doc­tor voiced no con­cerns over Keat­ing, who keeps fit through reg­u­lar walk­ing, tak­ing the plunge.

Keat­ing showed no in­di­ca­tion of nerves as she took last­minute in­struc­tions from a course guide.

In the end, the ride had an ex­hil­a­rat­ing, if some­what numb­ing, ef­fect on the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian swinger.

“I don’t think I was think­ing any­thing,’’ she con­ceded of the mo­ment she took flight on the zip line.

“Maybe it was be­cause I was scared.’’

Per­haps Keat­ing will in­spire other se­niors to swoop into ac­tion.

Jan­ice Cor­ney, who co-owns the ad­ven­ture course with her hus­band Mike, says Keat­ing is the old­est per­son to have zipped down the zip line since the fun park opened five years ago.

“I could count on my one hand the num­ber in the 60plus (range) that have gone zip lin­ing,’’ she said.

“So it is lovely that He­len is do­ing it be­cause it shows (se­niors) that it is not out of their reach.’’

As for Keat­ing, she plans to come back.

“If I can get some­one fool­ish enough to come with me, I will come on a nice, sunny day,’’ she said.

Keat­ing would also like to pur­sue a few dif­fer­ent ad­ven­tures as well, list­ing horse­back rid­ing, go­ing up in a he­li­copter, and parachut­ing while “def­i­nitely at­tached’’ to some­one as top­ping her thrill-seek­ing bucket list.

“Got to make use of what­ever time I have left,’’ she said.

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

He­len Keat­ing, 75, of Char­lot­te­town was en­ticed to try­ing zip lin­ing af­ter watch­ing a show on the ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­ity. “It just looked like an ad­ven­ture,’’ she says.

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

He­len Keat­ing goes through a few drills be­fore tak­ing her first plunge at zip lin­ing at the Rise and Climb Ad­ven­ture Course in Corn­wall.

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