Dan Meyer’s North America Smile Cycle 2023
Dan Meyer is an Operation Smile supporter with a great spirit and sense of determination that is an envy to all.
In 2022, the South African adventurer harnessed his outstanding willpower and embarked on a life-altering journey in support of Operation Smile. He cycled 3500 kilometers through Europe, a journey which lasted a total of seven weeks. Dan was inspired to do something different with his life as the effects of the pandemic had left him feeling aimless. So he purchased a bicycle and began training for this arduous trek from Copenhagen, Denmark to Rome, Italy.
“The pandemic was obviously quite a difficult time for everybody, and I wanted to bring some positive change,” Dan said. “I wanted to do something outside of myself to improve my own life, the lives of the people around me and the lives of the patients that Operation Smile helps.”
Dan completed his European Smile Cycle in seven weeks, just 48 hours shy of his Visa expiring and his return flight to South Africa. He raised R134 000 to transfer the lives of more than 20 patients through surgery, giving them the gift of a new smile and better access to care.
When Dan returned home to South Africa last year, he visited an Operation Smile surgical programme in Mpumalanga and had the privilege of witnessing the impact of the life-changing surgeries he had spent weeks supporting. The overwhelming hope and inspiration he experienced during this visit encouraged Dan to embark on another cycling adventure, this time down the west coast of the United States.
“What an amazing experience,” Dan said of his time at Operation Smile. “You get to meet the kids who without Operation Smile’s help would never be able to live a normal life. What Operation Smile brings to them, and what people like you and I can do to help, is really tangible; their changes are so drastic. And it changes not only the child’s life but the lives of the family and their school and their community. The amount of help that this charity does in the community is absolutely amazing.”
This year, Dan tackled North America, starting on 21 June at the Canadian border, snaking down the Pacific coast of the United States and ending his tour in Mexico on July 16, 2023. He rode more than 3,000 km!
“I am not a doctor, and I am not a nurse, and I can’t really do anything physically to help,” Dan says. “But I can ride a bicycle, and I can go on an adventure to raise awareness and funds and that’s exactly what I did.”
These extreme adventures are tough on the mind, body and spirit, but most importantly, they serve as a testament to the lengths a passionate individual is willing to go in support of those in need.
Dan and other Operation Smile supporters and volunteers are the life force of the organisation, and Dan’s story proves that there are infinite, innovative ways to show up and support a great cause.