Road trip to highlight men's health
Angus Westgarth will set out from Timaru on October 31 with a borrowed campervan, a Twitter account and a goal of raising $25,000.
The Timaru man, 27, will take to New Zealand's highways for three weeks, putting himself at the mercy of social media and the kindness of strangers as he travels a circuitous route from Southland to Auckland City.
All the while, he'll be growing his best - or worst, depending on your perspective - grotty moustache.
Angus is part of an ambitious group of Timaruvians, the "TiMOru" network, who work annually to raise money and awareness for the Movember campaign for men's health. Funds go to the fight against prostrate cancer and depression and other mental illness.
Last year Angus's efforts raised $5000. Altogether, Timaru's network raised a total of $25,000.
This year, the goal is $50,000, and Angus hopes he can raise half of that himself from the road.
He's also hoping his trip will put men's health in the spotlight.
"The awareness is so much more valuable than people realise," he said. "It's priceless."
He's driving a van donated by Wicked Campers (and painted in a custom mo motif) and relying on his sizeable Twitter following and other social media contacts - most of whom he's never met in real life - for support in the form of food, a night's sleep in a real bed and of course, donations.
"The basis of this is trusting in other people to make sure that I'm safe along the way."
It's a very personal project for someone who struggled with depression from a young age and said he "crashed and burned" through a lot of life.
He began using drugs heavily in his late teens.
"I lost jobs, friends, family," he said. "Then I woke up one day as a 20-year-old in a detox facility in Christchurch and realised life had to change."
It's experiences like his that give the Movember campaign a deeper significance, he said.
"For every dollar people give, there's a story."
The Timaru Herald