Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Patient seeks 'country of warriors' to help fund treatment

After lifesaving surgery overseas, Robbie Ritchie is determined to help others through a fundraising website

Jacqui and Robbie Ritchie have signed up 1000 One Dollar Warriors but are hoping for 100,000.  Picture / Greg Bowker
Jacqui and Robbie Ritchie have signed up 1000 One Dollar Warriors but are hoping for 100,000. Picture / Greg Bowker

When Robbie Ritchie was able to have a lifesaving operation in Germany thanks to $200,000 in donations from fellow Kiwis, he decided to give back.

The Patumahoe father, who suffered up to 90 seizures a year because of abnormal blood vessels in his brain, has set up a website to raise money for other sick New Zealanders needing medical treatment overseas.

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Called One Dollar Warriors, the website collects registrations from "warriors", who will donate as little as $12 a year to help people who have been turned down for surgery or treatment in New Zealand.

Mr Ritchie said without his surgery last August, money for which was raised through the Givealittle fundraising website, he had only four years to live. Now, his life expectancy is normal and he hasn't suffered a seizure in 10 months.

"Once we got back from Germany we realised there was actually a number of people in the same position that I was in, where there are options for them but they're being told by doctors here that 'sorry, you're going to die from this'."

The 34-year-old said he knew of three others like him, who travelled overseas for treatment and were alive because of it. "They would have died if they'd stayed here but one of them has another 20 years with his little girl and wife."

Mr Ritchie and his wife Jacqui have signed up 1000 warriors and hope at least 100,000 people will get on board after they launch today.

"We need a country of warriors."

The difference between One Dollar Warriors and Givealittle is in the registrations and selection. Those who register sign up to donate $1 to a cause supported by One Dollar Warriors, with the limit set at $12 a year. People needing help approach the website and must pass a selection criteria, unlike Givealittle where anyone can set up a fundraising page for anything. "If someone needs $100,000 they can come to us, we can send out an email to 100,000 people, they donate $1 each and it all happens in the space of a week."

"We will primarily support people needing to fundraise large amounts of money to get treatment offshore when it is not available in New Zealand, however there are other causes we would look at supporting such as medication that's not funded by our Government," Mr Ritchie said.

The not-for-profit website works in conjunction with Givealittle, where funds will be processed.

Givealittle founder and service manager Nathalie Whitaker said it made sense for charitable ventures such as the Ritchies' to use the neutral platform because it was free. "We wish that more charities would use Givealittle in that way."

On the web
www.onedollarwarriors.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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