Ride of Smiles.

One kilometre without a smile is a wasted kilometre.

For Dr. Hans-Henning "Baba" Bützow, every kilometre counts. During his motorcycle travels, the physician has frequently encountered people who are living in poverty, yet willing to share everything with him. Touched by the hospitality and welcoming smiles of these people, Baba set a goal for himself: On the Ride of Smiles Tour, he will ride 80,000 kilometres on an R 1200 GS Adventure and raise 50,000 euros for charity. At the end of the tour, the children in need will have a reason to smile again.

We want to bring back dignity and hope to many people – along with their smiles. ”

Dr. Hans-Henning "Baba" Bützow

A boy named Joel.

What makes a man take a year off work and ride over 80,000 kilometres on his motorcycle? In all kinds of weather. Facing hazards that we only hear about on the news. Baba's answer is succinct: Joel.
Baba met the boy while backpacking around Central America when he was 21. An encounter that changed both of their lives. While Baba was trying to secure a good vantage point to take a photograph of a volcano, he heard someone laughing right nearby. Baba looked around and looked into the eyes of 10-year-old boy with the features of an adult man. A bone metabolic disease had caused Joel to age faster than other children. In poverty-stricken Guatemala, this boy had a life expectancy of age 18 at best.
“Joel climbed the same hill as I did. Barefoot and on crutches. He knew that he would not get old. He also knew that he would probably never get an education, a wife, a family or children and would never have a life without pain”, says Baba. Baba talked to the boy for a long time. Joel explained that he dragged himself up to this location at weekends in order to beg for money for his family, because he did not want to be a burden.
The whole time they talked, Joel smiled and laughed – oblivious to his pain and life circumstance. Not once did he ask for money. Deeply moved, Baba gave him 70 dollars – all of his cash. Baba got a joyful smile in return. A smile that changed Baba's life.
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Solitude? No thank you.

Solitude? No thank you.

During his Ride of Smiles Tour, Baba did not seek solitude or try to discover unknown parts of the world. On the contrary: In a quest for new encounters, he deliberately chose routes that would bring him into contact with a lot of people. "I want to meet people and write about them on my blog. The aim of the Ride of Smiles is to raise money for precisely these people, especially children".

The fundraising goal of 50,000 euros may not seem like a lot of money. Many of the people Baba encounters have never had money in their life. They need it for food and medicine. And especially for the hope and chance of a better future. For them, every euro is a lot of money.

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Help from many sides.

Help from many sides.

Donations to the Ride of Smiles Tour are not used to fund the tour itself. Baba is paying for the trip out of his own pocket. He also donated the first 7,000 euros toward the fundraising goal. That means he only needed to raise 43,000 euros once he started the tour. Baba has received generous assistance from friends and colleagues, who are impressed by the example he is setting through his commitment.

BMW Motorrad also wanted to contribute to his extraordinary campaign and provided Baba with an R 1200 GS Adventure, including all the necessary equipment. The bike is well known for its ability to tackle special challenges and be ready for surprises. So the bike was an easy choice as a travel companion for Baba. The donation also included 7,000 kilometres of rider training in Spain.

Four charities will each receive a share of the total funds raised: Doctors Without Borders, Christian Blind Mission and United For Africa as well as Bayerischer Rundfunk’s ‘Sternstunden’ charity. They are all well established and have the resources to distribute the aid so that it will benefit recipients. The 'Sternstunden' charity is from Baba's home state of Bavaria and is dedicated to helping sick, disabled and needy children.

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