Sixteen years ago, Di Westaway nearly lost it. Tired and wrung out, the mother of three was fighting forty. Out of the blue her friend’s personal trainer invited her to climb an extreme mountain in Argentina and she fell in love with adventure.

“I chose this wild adventure to escape my miserable life. I hoped it would get me fit and happy again. But little did I know it would transform my life.” Di said. “I failed to reach the top of Mt Aconcagua on that first adventure but I learned how to manage stress and turn obstacles into opportunities, as well as how to wee into a zip-lock bag, among other, similarly important, survival skills.”

The Di Westaway of today is a world record holder and CEO of a social enterprise that has raised nearly $20 million for charity and transformed the lives of millions around the world. Di has built a movement called Wild Women On Top, an organisation that aims to inspire and empower women to get outdoors and improve their mental and physical health through shared hiking adventures. “The research is there, and it has been for years. You can’t really dispute the fact that walking in nature is the key to a long and happy life,” said Di. “And when you do it with friends, it becomes an even more powerful rejuvenator.”

Di’s Coastrek brand has become one of Australia’s most popular adventures for women in Sydney, Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast. The team trekking challenge sees participants hike either 30 or 60 kilometres to get fit, healthy and happy, while raising funds for charity. “I love supporting women who are juggling life’s ups and downs. To see them prioritise their own health and challenge themselves with their friends while raising money to help others is incredibly humbling for me,” Di said.

Di has been recognised as a New South Wales finalist in the 2017 Telstra Business Women’s Awards in the For Purpose and Social Enterprise category. Now in its twenty-third year, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards program is Australia’s longest running women’s awards program. Recognising and rewarding the courage, leadership and creativity of Australia’s and Asia’s most inspirational business women, the Awards empower women to take pride in their achievements and encourage them to set bold new goals for the future. The Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards dinner will be health on Friday 27 October 2017 at Doltone House.

Readers also enjoyed our story Passion Project