Lake Success, NY – Despite the blazing heat and a recently diagnosed heart condition, Santhosh Paulus, MD, completed his mission -- he and a loyal group of followers decided to break the cycle of human trafficking and childhood poverty by cycling across the country.
Dr. Paulus, Associate Program Director of Family Medicine at Glen Cove Hospital, of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is also the president and founder of Cycling 4 Change, an organization dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery and the extreme poverty that leads to human trafficking. Dr. Paulus, a family doctor, left New York with his comrades and his wife, Rajdeep Paulus, on June 26. Three days later they set off from Seattle, WA, on a cross-country ride. The plan was to travel 3,400 miles in 34 days and raise awareness along the way.
The Locust Valley resident, an avid biker, was devastated earlier this year when he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which forced him to alter—but not abandon-- his plans. He didn’t cycle the entire route, but participated in other ways when he was not on the bike.
At high noon on Aug. 1, Dr. Paulus and his group pedaled onto the grounds of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, much to the delight of his mother, his wife and other family members, as well as about 30 bikers waiting to complete the last leg of the trip to Locust Valley. (In honor of the day, Dr. Paulus pedaled from the George Washington Bridge to LIJ along with the other riders).
“I have four daughters, so my wife and I wanted to do something that would make people aware of this terrible problem,” Dr. Paulus, surrounded by cheering friends and well-wishers. “We tend to think trafficking only occurs in other countries; the truth is, the problem exists right here in New York. This is our way of giving voice to the problem.”
Also on hand to show her support was Shandra Woworuntu, founder of Mentari, a human-trafficking, survivor-empowerment program. Ms. Woworuntu had been a successful and accomplished financial professional in her home country of Indonesia. When she lost her job due to a failing economy, she sought admission to the United States after filling out a job application for the hospitality industry. As soon as she arrived at JFK Airport, she was hastened to a waiting van and entangled in the world of human trafficking.
“I am living proof that human trafficking is not just a problem confined to poorer countries,” said Ms. Woworuntu. “I was trafficked all over New York City and Connecticut. I applaud Dr. Paulus and everyone at Cycling 4 Change who is dedicated to ridding the world of this terrible crime.”