Fundraising hitchhikers on return journey

PHOTO: LAURA SMITH
PHOTO: LAURA SMITH
A hitchhiking fundraiser spanning the length of the country has raised more than $35,000 for suicide prevention, but the team involved will not simply end it at Bluff.

Hitch for Hope is comprised of a team of six including (from left) Michelle Ding, of Malaysia, Melanie Sandhaas, of Germany, Megan Blanchard, of the US,

and Daniele Casali, of Italy, as well as Tom Gilchrist and Harsha Shree (not pictured, of New Zealand).

They began hitchhiking from Cape Reinga on May 22, to raise funds for suicide prevention and promote community connection, and arrived in Bluff last Wednesday.

The group was raising funds for the I am Hope initiative.

Ms Ding explained hitchhiking was a practice that required vulnerability from both the person asking for a ride and the person opening their car to a stranger.

"It allows people to share deeper things.

"There was one guy who said, ‘Oh, I’ve never told this to anybody but maybe I’ll never see you again’."

They called it car-munication.

The team would head back north and continue fundraising through its Give a Little page.

United Industries supported the group and will match every dollar raised, with the goal of reaching $50,000.

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