Paul Saso, author of Kootenay Inspired, has taken the sales from his book and donated them so a local child can attend the Tipi Camp Nature Retreat.

Kootenay Inspired author Paul Saso

Last November we announced the launch of Kootenay Inspired – Stories and Photos of Extraordinary Kootenay Lives, written by Nelson local Paul Saso The 192-page, full-colour book shares tales, photos and insights from 12 remarkable individuals who call the Kootenay region of British Columbia home. They include Oso Negro Café founder Jon Meyer, photographer Ricardo Hubbs, organic farmer and ski lodge owner Brian Cross, actor Lucas Meyers and nursing instructor and activist Mary Ann Morris.

Paul has just announced he’s made his first donation from sales of the book to allow a local child to attend the Tipi Camp Nature Retreat on Kootenay Lake. “The goal of Kootenay Inspired has always been to inspire people to live great lives,” Paul says. “Recognizing that inspiration can only take you so far without action and resources, I am donating 50% of proceeds to local charities that empower and enable people to live well. It is my hope that those who benefit from these donations will go on to inspire others themselves, adding to the momentum of our Kootenay community, and propelling more people towards inspired, actualized lives. It is this movement that you, the reader, are now a part of.”

Sales of the book have almost reached the break even point so Paul has made his first donation of $500 to sponsor a child to attend Tipi Camp’s W.I.S.E. (Wilderness Immersion for Self Esteem) program, which strives to give children a deeper understanding of themselves and of the natural environment around them. “It is truly an amazing program that benefits many children each year, perhaps shifting their lives forever,” Paul says. Tipi Camp was established in 1988 by Peter Duryea and Alice Bruce, who was born and raised in the area, and is now operated by the non-profit group Guiding Hands Recreation Society.

When asked why he decided to donate money from the sales of the book, Paul says he was inspired to do so during the research of his book. “A theme found in the lives and hearts of many of the people in Kootenay Inspired is most certainly generosity,” he explains. “Generosity with their time, money, and dedication to others.” As an example, Paul has given Mountain Culture Group rights to reprint the following except from the chapter about Mary Woodward, a woman who was well-known to the skiing and outdoor communities in Nelson, BC, and beyond.

Mary Woodward at Whitewater Ski Resort

Kootenay Inspired Excerpt — Mary Woodward Chapter

In the summer months, Mary summited peaks most days of the week, often with friends in the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. When ski season rolled around, she was a veritable legend at Whitewater Ski Resort and had a breadth of knowledge of secret stash lines that most powder hounds would die for. She often skied with a group of incredibly strong older skiers who have collectively been nicknamed the Silver Sliders, once for the silver metallic skis they all used, but in recent years more for the dominant hair colour of the group.

When I asked Mary if she would go back and change anything in her life if she could, she replied thoughtfully. “No. I wouldn’t give up what I have now, and if I’d done something different… Well, Lordy, it could be dreadful. I could end up thinking ‘Why wasn’t I happy with what I had?’”

As we chatted about philosophies to live by, Mary reached into her purse, and pulled out a poem that had been special to her since she found it many years ago. “I don’t even know where it came from but I just wrote it out when I saw it. That’s really what I feel.”

Enjoy the moment you are in
Take every opportunity presented to you
Use the past only for what it teaches
Keep only the good memories
Forget the rest

Mary Woodward in the lodge at Whitewater Ski Resort.

Mary passed away in May of 2014. She had a beautiful service at Lakeside Park in Nelson, where many friends and family members celebrated her life and mourned the loss of a truly wonderful woman who inspired us all with her kindness, modesty and appreciation for life. The crowd varied from long-time friends well into their eighties, to family members, to people who just knew her from around the ski hill. One young man got up and spoke about how Mary would always pick him and his friends up when they were hitchhiking to the hill, despite the fact that they were a very rag-tag looking group of snowboarders.

Mary was never one to judge. She left behind a legacy of smiles, family and friends. As her husband Bill put it, “Mary loved everybody and everybody loved Mary.”

At the memorial, I thought of meeting Mary on that late afternoon chairlift ride together. As we reached the top, with the cold wind blowing on our faces, we raised the creaky safety bars and slid from the lift. It was the last run of another powder day at Whitewater. As our skis hit the snowy platform, we wished each other a good run and parted ways. As I turned right toward the open runs, Mary skied straight ahead and stopped in front of the ski area boundary rope. Reaching into her jacket pocket, she pulled out a radio and talked briefly with someone. Then, lifting the yellow nylon rope, she ducked under, shuffled her skis through the deep snow, dug in her poles, and disappeared over the edge.

For more information about Kootenay Inspired, or to find a retailer in your area, visit