RAISING MONEY, AWARENESS: Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia in Corazon, his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation.
RAISING MONEY, AWARENESS: Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia in Corazon, his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation. Boni Holmes

On a mission, with a cuppa

A LOT of people have taken the plunge and are now travelling around this big country of ours.

However, not many are doing it purely for charity and in the (dis) comfort of a 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus.

The 34-year-old found the old disused bus in a quarry and there have numerous times he wished he had left it there.

But Lorie Norton's life changing decision came about after when after years of restorations, disheartening moments, financial woes and a five-year hiatus of the project, he went doorknocking in Melbourne where he found someone who let him continue his double decker restorations on their property.

"I got an idea that I wanted to start doing something different with my life," Lorie said.

"I decided that if I were to do the trip then it would be for a good cause."

 

Lorie Norton renovated a 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus to travel around Australia on a charity run.
Lorie Norton renovated a 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus to travel around Australia on a charity run. Boni Holmes

Little did he realise that the connection to the charity was already there with the property owner knowing the perfect organisation he could help.

It was a charity called the Eli's Gift Foundation which aims to alleviate the financial burden on families with sick children.

"The organisation guarantees that all money received from donations goes to the families who need it most," he said.

 

He was thankful for his barista course because at the launch of the expedition, he was inundated with thousands of customers.

"I welcome people into the bus (which is now really his home) for a cup of coffee, if they would like to support a charity they can."

 

From the renovated 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus, Lorie Norton offers free cuppas and a chat.
From the renovated 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus, Lorie Norton offers free cuppas and a chat. Boni Holmes

But Lorie's trip around the country is not going to be either easy or very fast.

Travelling at the neck breaking speed of just 45km/h has given Lorie the chance to see life from a different perspective.

"It has given me time to appreciate the world and change my thoughts on so many things," he said.

"It gives me time to think and to tune into things that have happened and things people have said."

 

From the renovated 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus, Lorie Norton offers free cuppas and a chat.
From the renovated 1949 Leyland OP2 double decker bus, Lorie Norton offers free cuppas and a chat. Boni Holmes

Lorie set up at the Tiny Homes Festival in Bendigo (Vic) where his story had spread far and wide.

"I had a 30m line out the door of people wanting to come in a have a look and wanting coffee."

That was just the beginning of his challenges, including a blown head gasket just a week into the trip, the generator died and the starter motor went.

On a bus that runs entirely on donations, the coffee lover has met some truly amazing people.

He had mechanics mentor him while doing repairs, strangers shelter him while he finished some last minute restorations and invited to discover towns in local style.

 

Lorie Norton offers an open door to his double decker bus named Corazon, which means heart in Spanish.
Lorie Norton offers an open door to his double decker bus named Corazon, which means heart in Spanish. Boni Holmes

Lorie said he put purpose behind what he was doing to give back.

"When I was renovating the bus every screw I put into the bus to hold in together was another family I was going to hold together, every brush stroke was another child we got to help," he said.

"It was a really big incentive and drive for me to go forward.

"When you do something like a charity run you make the heart happy, when you go to bed you are happy, you have a purpose that you are going to be helping someone so you wake up happy."

 

Lorie Norton is traveling around Australia in Corazon, his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for  Eli's Gift Foundation.
Lorie Norton is traveling around Australia in Corazon, his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation. Boni Holmes

He has been blessed with food and money donations and during his week-long stop on the Fraser Coast he spoke to a bus load of tourists about his plights and was given a really nice contribution to Eli's Gift.

Another story is where he had a gentleman come into the bus and wasn't keen to put the money in the donation tin.

"I jokingly said I wouldn't give him his coffee until he put the money in the box.

"He did very reluctantly and about half an hour later a lady walked in and put $100 in Eli's Gift donation tin and $100 in the donation box for running the bus."

 

Lorie Norton's Twice as Nice Gallery Cafe double decker, fully self-sufficient bus is raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation.
Lorie Norton's Twice as Nice Gallery Cafe double decker, fully self-sufficient bus is raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation. Boni Holmes

Lorie offered the lady a coffee and t-shirt but instead told him that he had opened her husband's heart for the first time in his life.

She told him that her husband had never made a donation to anyone in his life and was proud as punch.

"She said 'so that is a thank you to Eli's Gift for the work they are doing and opening my husband's heart and teaching him how to give and there's $100 towards food and fuel so that you can keep going out and opening peoples hearts'."

 

Lorie Norton making a cuppa in his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation.
Lorie Norton making a cuppa in his double decker, fully self-sufficient bus raising money and awareness for Eli's Gift Foundation. Boni Holmes

Lorie has so many stories that inspire him to keep his heart open, his mind open and his doors open.

He will be travelling to Hervey Bay where you can hear more of Lorie's stories.

For donations drop in and see Lorie at his Twice as Nice Gallery Cafe double decker bus in Hervey Bay until the end of the week or on Facebook and Instagram or elisgift.org.au.



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