By the time Jorg Fischer and Karsten Richter of East Berlin leave Utah, a group of residents hope they'll know not all Americans are "nerds."
Fischer and Richter's dream tour of the United States went bust Friday in Orem when a man who had given them a ride stole all of their belongings. The two men lost passports, airline tickets home, $1,000 in cash, duffle bags of clothes and toiletries, and a tent.Between them Fischer, 22, and Richter, 21, had the clothes on their backs, $10 and the prospects of a long road home. It seemed like a nightmarish end to the trip they had saved for for six months.
But after reading about the two men's plight in Saturday's Deseret News, Utahns are helping put Fischer and Richter's trip to America back on track.
After staying Friday night at Hotel Roberts in Provo, the two men spent Saturday and Sunday night at East Bay Inn, courtesy of owner Doug Horn. Monday night, they became guests in the home of another benefactor who asked that he not be identified.
Park's Sportsman in Orem volunteered to replace Fischer and Richter's stolen tent. But rebuilding the rest of their dream vacation will be more difficult: replacing the stolen passports could take as long as three weeks, according to the German Consulate in Salt Lake City.
Without identification, the two men are afraid to leave the state. And replacing their stolen gear and plane tickets could cost as much as $5,000.
With that in mind, several Utah County residents, who asked that their efforts rather than their names be publicized, established an account Monday at Central Bank to accept donations for the two men.
"We'd like them to continue their trip, to replace what they lost and get them back functioning," one benefactor said.
In the meantime, Utah's good Samaritans are making sure Fischer and Richter's visit to Utah is unforgettable.
"Jorg has been really devastated by the whole thing, but he is finally smiling," one benefactor said.
Saturday a host took the two men, who work as theater set builders in East Berlin, on a tour of the Motion Picture Studio and campus at Brigham Young University. Members of BYU's German Club took them out for pizza and to a barbecue.On Monday the same host took them to the immigration and German Consulate offices in Salt Lake City and then to visit a German class at Highland High School. Following that, the host, who is a private pilot, took them on an aerial tour of the Salt Lake Valley.
"They thought it was great," he said.
Tuesday, the two were to visit Temple Square and the University of Utah.
"I think they feel a lot better today than they did Saturday," one Samaritan told the Deseret News. "They were pretty dejected."
The loss of their belongings in Orem on Friday was the second brush with bad luck for the pair. The two began their trip in Houston, where they bought a cheap Plymouth Duster to tour the country in. They spent one-third of their vacation money on the vehicle.
Ten miles later the car broke down. They left the car with a German-speaking man who befriended them and who promised to junk it. The two then hitchhiked through several Western states before landing in Orem.
They had planned to visit Salt Lake City and then travel to Denver. There, they would buy bicycles, ride to Mississippi, up the Mississippi River to Chicago and then fly home.
"They've been frustrated with their experience in the United States," a benefactor said. "We'd like to keep them here long enough to make them feel all Americans aren't nerds."
Checks should be made out to the "Fischer and Richter Account," Central Bank, 75 N. University Ave., Provo, UT 84606.
Readers can contact the Deseret News' Utah County Bureau at 374-1162 or 532-4386 to find out how fund-raising efforts are proceeding.