BAIE VERTE, N.L. — Family doctor by day and motorcycle enthusiast by night, Dr. Wian Lotter is combining both loves to aid the Doctors Without Borders cause.
The physician has been fundraising for the global movement that responds to disaster and conflict areas worldwide to coincide with his ride across the United States.
The doctor from South Africa, who practiced in La Scie for 20 years before moving to Baie Verte for the past five years, says he always wanted to visit the United States. He decided to combine that dream with his passion for riding his motorcycle, but still wanted to make the experience something even more meaningful.
In true selfless fashion, Lotter hoped it all could benefit others. Hence his decision to raise money for a charity. The former doctor in the South African Defence Force says he has always been inspired by the work of Doctors Without Borders.
“The doctors involved provide medical care anywhere in the world where the need is the greatest,” Lotter told The Nor’wester prior to embarking on his journey from Baie Verte Thursday, June 7. “It could be following natural disasters or in areas of conflict and disease, but they are one of the first groups to respond. It is important to me as a doctor to know people who need emergency services the most get that kind of response.”
Participating in a Doctors Without Borders mission has been another lifelong dream, something he says hopes to one day fulfill following retirement. However, making a significant financial contribution to ensuring humanitarian efforts across the world continue is something Lotter believes is just as valuable.
He set about fundraising for “Ride Without Borders” in the local area. He established a goal of $20,000 — a dollar for every kilometre his trip is estimated. As he geared up and left Baie Verte last week, he had already surpassed that.
Lotter has gotten a lot of help from nurses and staff at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Care Centre. They had various fundraisers such as tickets on quilts, selling cold plates, and a wine and cheese event. Local business people have also come onside, such as through the donation of wood as a fundraiser. Several health care specialists also made substantial donations.
He has been very appreciative of the support and effort of everybody thus far.
“I am quite surprised to have already reached my goal before I even started,” he said, adding he expects to continue to raise funds along the trip. “I think I will set a goal of $30,000 now, but anything I receive is now a bonus.”
Lotter is paying for all personal costs of his trip himself, and clarified all donations go directly to Doctors Without Borders.
The physician is starting his trip through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before he enters the United States through Maine. He will continue to Laconia, New Hampshire to participate in the Laconia Bike Rally 2018 — the oldest bike rally in North America.
Lotter plans to go to New York and visit the Doctors Without Borders United States office and on to Washington, D.C. When he reaches Florida, where he is looking forward to riding the “tail of the dragon,” he will head to the southeast and on westward toward New Orleans, Houston and Las Vegas. Then, it is on to the west coast and San Francisco through to Seattle before crossing the border into Vancouver for a rest.
When he resumes, Lotter plans to go through Yellowstone National Park on the way to Sturgis, South Dakota to participate in the largest bike rally in North America. He hopes to continue on through Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit before returning to Canada. He will visit the Doctors Without Borders office in Toronto before continuing through Montreal and back home to Newfoundland and Labrador.
He hopes to return to Baie Verte during the Spree to the Sea festivities.
While one day hoping to participate in a Doctors Without Borders mission, Lotter suspects he will repeat this type of fundraiser again first. He is planning to travel to South America, and is inspired by the success thus far to do it again.
“I really do appreciate everybody’s help so far,” he said.