On Your Deathbed, You Will Receive Total Motorcycle Consciousness

A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock.

So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald…striking.

So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver, he hauls off and whacks one- big hitter, the Lama- long, into a ten-thousand foot crevice, right at the base of this glacier. And do you know what the Lama says?

“Gunga galunga…gunga- gunga lagunga.”

So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?”

And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.”

So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

– Carl Spackler Caddyshack

Born with chronic kidney disease, Stephane Etienne’s son, Ilhan, is facing a tough row to hoe.

So Etienne and his motorcycle riding partner Paul Torriero, hit the road intent on crossing four continents and nine countries to spread the word about the disease. From Sydney, Australia to his birthplace in France, the pair stopped by children’s hospitals in Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy and Paris – and they did the whole trip in the span of four months.

Kidney disease afflicts 550 million people worldwide, and the pair were bound and determined to tell the world about the importance of information on the subject.

“It’s not a cool thing to write about a disease – and it’s even less of a cool thing to show it on TV – so it was pretty difficult to find information about the disease,” Etienne said. “The only way we did was talking to doctors and meeting with a few patients that have that issue.”

Chronic kidney disease most often afflicts people aged 35 to 45 whose lifestyle puts them at risk.

“So, if you are about 35 years of age, you’re starting to drink a little bit more, to smoke a little bit more. You’re stressed at work so you develop hypertension. Or your eating habit isn’t as good as before, so you become a perfect candidate for diabetes,” Etienne said. “Once you have one of those two issues, diabetes or high blood pressure, then you’re the perfect candidate to become affected with chronic kidney disease.”

But lifestyle isn’t the only way you can face the effects of the disease.

You can be born with it as well.

“It’s quite unusual, but it does happen,” Etienne said. “Kidney disease affects one out of seven people. The numbers are only getting worse and worse every year.”

Etienne has set a goal of creating an information-sharing platform to connect doctors and medical staffs in major hospitals with their counterparts in the developing world and impoverished regions. To that end, Etienne sold his company, put together a support network of government officials, doctors, and sponsors, and began packing on weight physically to prepare for the rigors of the journey ahead.

Beginning on March 22, TLC has been airing its six-part series “WorldRiderZ.” The show features Etienne and Torriero and their mission. Season 1 deals with their journey from Sydney to Paris, and the plan for Season 2 is to document their trip from France to the US through Canada.

“Our social network is growing every day and it’s going to be very, very big by the time we reach the US,” Etienne said.

Meeting the Ocean Teacher

Etienne fell in love with riding when he was just 12 years old.

“You can smell things; you can see things differently because you’re outside… It makes the communication a lot easier whenever you pull over on the road and you want to meet with someone or you need to find your way… You can always be in contact with nature and meet with anyone out there in a very friendly and easy way,” Etienne said.

His motorcycle has provided him an entre into various cultures and support along the way from fellow riders.

“In every country where we were going, we not only had escorts of hundreds of motorcycles from one hospital to the next, but we also were invited on national news,” Etienne said.

His ride so far has brought him in contact with those in positions of power who can help him along on his quest, and they include the Ministers of Health in every country they visited, the king of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps most telling, the Dalai Lama.

“He is an amazing person and let me know without talking about religion as a human being, you’ve got so much to share and to learn from him,” Etienne said.

But all was not enlightenment and peace along the road. Etienne’s motorcycle was stolen in Tripoli. The bike was recovered that same day, but not before some painful soul-searching.

“That moment when this happened, I really thought that I was letting my son down by not being able to push on the journey, and mentally, this was very difficult,” Etienne said.
And how is his son handling both being without his father and the affliction that led to the trip itself?
Ilhan Etienne, now 3 years old, is doing as well as can be expected.

“He is at a stage where his kidney function is okay for now,” Etienne said. “It is very difficult to leave them behind, but the reality is I have to be able to see all of that and think about the future and think about all those people affected with the same disease. That is a quest that is not just for my son, but it’s for all of those patients around the world.”

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