Who can save the rugged, fearless mountaineers who spend their leisure time rescuing lost and injured hikers from the Superstition Mountains wilderness?
Beauty salon owners Victorya Goodrich and Barbara Reyes — that’s who.
Goodrich and Reyes, with help from a few of their Gold Canyon neighbors, raised more than $12,000 in July to benefit Superstition Search and Rescue, a volunteer organization that has struggled to make ends meet because it receives virtually no public funding.
Goodrich, who had never done any fund raising before, said she was impressed by the generosity and dedication of the rescue group’s 25 members, who perform a vital function that Pinal County law enforcement officials rely on but don’t have the money to pay for.
"They’re just really awesome human beings, man," she said. "It was awesome to be a part of something like that."
Goodrich and Reyes said a variety of charity groups have approached them since December, when they opened Salon E-Clipz, 6268 S. Kings Ranch Road. Instead of donating haphazardly, they decided it would be better to focus on a cause they truly believed in.
"We were like, dude, we’ve got to get our own charity," Goodrich said.
So the two entrepreneurs enlisted the help of restaurateur Becky Kurtz of Gold Canyon Yacht Club, Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith, D-District 2 of Gold Canyon, Sheriff Roger Vanderpool and others, and they put on a fund-raising event July 18 to help pay for rescue training and equipment.
Usually, Superstition Search and Rescue volunteers pay those costs out of their own pockets, Reyes said, and equipment is frequently lost or broken.
"It’s a very expensive endeavor," she said. "When a person gets rescued, they don’t get billed."
One of the team’s more dramatic saves this year took place in January, when a 73-year-old man fell on the steep and rocky Siphon Draw trail in Lost Dutchman State Park and was complaining of neck and back injuries.
Two volunteer rescue teams were dispatched to assist the injured man — one hiking up the trail to reach him quickly, and the other dropped by helicopter atop the Flatiron Mountain summit 1,000 feet above him to ferry down rescue equipment.
After a failed attempt to lower the injured man down with ropes in the dead of night, the rescue workers remained with him until morning for a precarious but successful rescue by helicopter. The operation took more than 18 hours.
Goodrich said she and Reyes plan to hold another event in March, and they will attempt to raise even more money by soliciting donations from the area’s winter residents.
"They’re usually the ones who need saving anyway," she said.