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One Dollar Warriors fight on

Imagine finding out that you have a condition that could end your life, and the only treatment available is on the other side of the world.

Imagine being told there was a cure, you could survive, but for this to happen you would need a large sum of money. An amount of money so big, it is almost unimaginable.

For Robbie Ritchie, 35, and his wife Jacqui, both Patumahoe residents, this was a reality.

At the age of 14 Robbie was told he had enlarged blood vessels and arteries on the right side of his brain, and that he would die young.

“They told me that I would have seizures for the rest of my life, that I was going to die young and that nothing could be done about it,” he says.

For 20 years Robbie and his family searched for a cure for this ‘inoperable’ condition, and finally they found one, at the International Neuroscience Institute in Germany. But there was a catch.

“I gave them my brain scans to look at, and they said yes! The catch was it would cost $200,000 to get there,” says Robbie.

“To make things even harder, there was an appointment free on the 13th of August 2013, but that was only seven weeks away,” he adds.

So Robbie and his wife Jacqui had a goal to fundraise $200,000 within 7 weeks to get all the way to Germany and save his life.

With Jacqui’s experience in marketing and fundraising, they started their campaign.

Within six days the local community of Franklin, and in fact the whole country, had helped them raise $100,000. Within five weeks their target had been hit.

After the successful trip to Germany Robbie decided he wanted to give back, and what better way to do it than to start up a fund for people like him – everyday warriors.

The idea was simple: One Dollar Warriors. If 100,000 people donated just one dollar, that’s $100, 000.

“I could give back to the thousands of people that gave donations to me,” says Robbie.

With the ODW’s website they were able to help a few people in similar situations to Robbie, including 21-month-old Kylani.

Kylani was born a happy, healthy and beautiful young baby, but at 10 months old everything went downhill.

“Over the coming months Kylani’s seizures became more frequent and violent, with her whole body convulsing and her eyes rolling back in her head,” says Robbie.

“After having more tests at Starship hospital, doctors still couldn’t give a definitive answer, however they believed she may have a condition known as ‘shrinking brain’.”

Kylani’s parents, dedicated to finding a cure, finally discovered a stem cell treatment available in South China, a treatment that is considered very controversial here in New Zealand. Much like Robbie’s surgery.

So with a goal to hit $50,000, and a very short timeline, that’s where ODW’s came in.

“Our target for Kylani was $26,000 and our warriors managed to raise just over $20,000 in 4 weeks,” says Robbie.

In this case, Kylani’s family had already raised a huge amount on their own, so ODW’s didn’t need to fund the full $50,000.

“We make sure that the family continue with their own fundraising as we don’t know if we can reach the amount needed,” he says.

With the full amount of money now in the bag, the wait is on until Kylani is well enough to travel to China to receive her possibly life saving treatments.

And for the Ritchies and their One Dollar Warriors, the word continues. For them they’re only just getting started.

You can follow their journey here.

Samantha Worthington
Samantha is an aspiring broadcast journalist who loves to write, talk and most importantly, eat. Born and raised in Auckland, NZ.
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