Just in time for the holidays, a story of selflessness, love, and above all, the will to endure the toughest obstacles the world has to throw. Serge Roetheli is a Swiss endurance athlete who has always been pushing himself to the edge of human limits, usually only because of a personal drive, but this time he is motivated by something above even himself. Along with his wife Nicole, they leave Switzerland in 2000 for a long 5 year journey across the globe to raise money for children centers around the world. While Nicole is riding alongside her husband in a motorcycle, Serge will be literally cross country running the entire way until they make their way around the globe and end up at home. But will they be the same people when (or if) they arrive home? Read our review here.
During the red carpet premier of 12,000 Mile Love Story in Chicago, we were able to talk to star of the film Serge Roetheli and distant relative/executive producer Joseph C. Roetheli.
Jon: Hey Serge! So what inspired you to to go on this incredible adventure?
Serge: All my life was only an adventure, you know? And I decided to run around the world for 3 reasons: to be free, for the emotions and experience, and to help some kinds.
J: Aside from running, what would you say the hardest part of your journey was?
S: The hardest part would have to be the running. I mean its easy if you don’t run (*laughs*). But no, the hardest part was actually seeing the millions of people trying hard to survive, and not having a choice in it. It makes me realize its a privilege for me to run and there is freedom in it.
J: I’m sure that helps motivate your running too. So what part of the world is your favorite?
S: If i had to choose only one place, it would have to definitely be Madagascar.
J: So what did you like about it?
S: The people were so friendly, the nature is outstanding! Wonderful beaches and a wide range of wild animals. Its such a melting pot! I like many other countries like the United States for their open mind, and my homeland of Switzerland for the food of course.
J: I have to completely agree with you on that! Switzerland has some amazing food. So if there is one message you want the viewers to leave with, what would it be?
S: I just want people to know they can make a difference and help underprivileged people if they try.
J: Thank you so much Serge! I look forward to seeing the documentary!
Joseph C. Roetheli
Jon: It’s great to meet you! So how did you come to hear about this project?
Joseph C. Roetheli: I created it basically.
J: Really? Did you know Serge beforehand?
JCR: Well, the truth of the matter is that we are very very distant relatives, but we did not know of each other until 1995 when he was running from the southern tip of Argentina to Fairbanks, a warm up event for this event.
J: Wow, is that what he considers a warm up?
JCR: That just the kind of guy he is. So then another distant relative showed me an article in the Swiss-American Review with Serge in it. I tracked him down and met him in 1995.
J: An overdue family reunion.
JCR: Yeah, it only took 138 plus years for that to occur. Then when we met up I learned more about his goals and his intentions. I was completely inspired, and I learned that if you inspire people they will do great things. Sure you can give them things, but if they aren’t inspired, they won’t do anything with it.
J: Once you get them inspired, its very likely it’ll spread like wildfire and inspire others.
JCR: That’s exactly right! For example, there is this village in Guyana, South America where the per capita income is $1,200 a year. We got the government to give them 40 acres of land, and between the villagers and a small construction crews they cleared out the land. Because they were inspired, they were able to build an entire village in only 54 days. We can’t even get a building permit in 54 days here, but they were able to build a whole village for their families. That alone is inspiring, and I believe that this film, and of course Serge, will inspire people to do similar acts of greatness.
J: I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m already inspired to action! Thank you so much for your time, and for making this film happen. I’m sure if it inspires at least one person, it would have all been worth it.
Thanksgiving (and Christmas) is when charity and selflessness are front and center. Where helping those less fortunate is commercialized, but what Serge and Joseph showed us is that charity can happen, and needs to happen constantly and year round. Keep an eye out for this film. It’s not in theaters yet, but I’m assured several companies want to release this film. For now, it’s sweeping film festivals around the country, so keep an eye for it on their website!