Bare-Devils Set To Fall From The Sky Naked For A Good Cause
Kaitlyn Sapier never thought she would be jumping out of a plane in the nude.
But she also never could have imagined that she would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Sapier, 25, and her partner Ryan are leading a group of 'bare-devils' who will take part in a skydive next month to raise awareness for the chronic, neurological disease.
They'll be donning nothing but parachutes -- and hope to break the world record for the most naked skydivers in formation during freefall.
Currently, that stands at 23.
"I've never skydived, so I'm super scared!" Sapier told 10 daily.
But she's taking the plunge for an important cause after her life took an unexpected turn.
Sapier was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in late 2018.
She was an otherwise healthy 24-year-old until she woke up one morning blind in her right eye.
"I couldn't see anything. I went to the doctors and they ran some tests which came back inconclusive," she said.
Sapier said her vision returned about seven days later. But then one of her legs went numb. The next day, it was the other, followed by her torso, back and hands.
"At that point, I started freaking out a little," she said.
When Sapier returned to see a doctor, she said they were stumped as her mobility and balance weren't affected. It was only when she went to see a specialist that she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS.
Sapier quickly started on Mavenclad, a disease-modifying drug for Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) that was recently listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
She hasn't had a relapse since.
'Why Don't We Do Something Crazy?'
At just 25, Sapier lives with general MS symptoms, including balance issues and fatigue. But she counts herself lucky that she can walk.
She said she was told if she had not been diagnosed and treated early, her risk of disability and other complications would have been much greater.
"It's heavy stuff, and I want to make sure that nobody gets to a point where they're just ignoring symptoms," she said.
Sapier said her partner Ryan, a professional skydiver, came up with the idea of the world record attempt when the couple started dating.
"I was telling him about all the things I have been through, and he said, why don't we do something crazy to raise funds and to get the word out?'" she said.
We thought a bunch of naked people jumping out of the sky would be the best way.
The current record for the most naked skydivers in formation during freefall was set 30 years ago near Katherine in the Northern Territory and sits at 23.
Sapier said she expects up to 30 professional solo skydivers from across Australia will take part in the world record attempt in Toogoolawah, in south-east Queensland, next month.
But beating it will be more difficult than it sounds.
Rigorous training sessions are underway, both on the ground in wind tunnels, and in the sky.
Sapier said participants must have a minimum of 200 jumps behind them to ensure they can deal with the challenging -- and "slippery" -- conditions.
"When you're in the sky and you're naked, you don't have a jumpsuit to take the wind so it kind of slips off you," she said.
"It makes a really difficult to hang about in the air."
While the skydivers have occasionally been training in the nude, most practice jumps are performed wearing tight underwear -- until the main event.
"I believe we can do it, but it's going to be really difficult. We're going to try really hard, anyway," Sapier said.
The fundraising event will take place on February 29 and March 1 at Skydive Ramblers in Toogoolawah. Alongside the record attempt, non-professional skydivers can take part in a clothed tandem skydive, with all funds going to MS QLD.