15,000 Miles in a Plastic Car

15,000 Miles in a Plastic Car

Clifton's John Lovejoy is taking a road trip from Germany to Cambodia.

John Lovejoy, 27, of Little Rocky Run in Clifton is planning a 15,000-mile road trip this summer that will begin in Germany and end in Cambodia. What’s more, Lovejoy and seven others will attempt to complete their journey in three almost entirely plastic cars known as Trabants. The goal of what is now called the Trabant Trek is to raise $300,000 for street children in Cambodia.

“THIS TREK will give a new face to fund-raising,” says Lovejoy. “It’s young, hip, and that’s the crowd we’re going for. The world is becoming more globalized.”

The idea originated after last summer’s World Cup in Germany, where the JMU graduate drove in a Trabant from game to game with fellow trekker, John Drury, on their way from Budapest to Paris. The Trabant is made mostly of plastic and has a top speed of 50 mph. “It’s the Soviet answer to the Volkswagen Beetle,” says Lovejoy.

Still, Lovejoy and Drury, who has always had a strong desire to be on TV, fell in love with the Trabant and began wondering how they could use the car to attract interest and raise money for a worthy cause.

Lovejoy found the answer by traveling and spending time in Cambodia. Considering himself an Army brat, Lovejoy has always had a love for traveling and exploring the unknown. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but found a soft spot in his heart for Cambodia. Two organizations, M’Lop Tapang and Mith Samlanh, which assists street children, stayed on Lovejoy’s mind.

“I was extremely impressed with these charities and saw that they were really making a difference,” said Lovejoy. “Sometimes the planning for the trek gets difficult, and it’s the contact I’ve had with these organizations and the children in Cambodia that pushes me to continue.”

Once the idea was born, Lovejoy and Drury quickly pulled together an international team of eight. Most of the crew became friends with Lovejoy by meeting through traveling. For instance, Lovejoy met Carlos Gey who is from Spain — in Indonesia; Dan Murdoch from the UK — in the Thai jungle, and Samantha Rose from the UK — in Cambodia. All together, the team is made up of four Americans, two Brits, a Spaniard and a Hungarian.

While the goal is to raise money for the two charities in Cambodia for street children, Lovejoy realizes there will be unexpected challenges along the way.

“WE’LL BE driving through 20 countries, and we’re aware that we don’t know exactly what we’re in for,” says Lovejoy. “We’ve all quit our jobs and given up things to go on this trek, and we’re looking forward to an adventure of a lifetime.”

Lovejoy recognized many problems in Cambodia and being able to give more than $300,000 to the two charities would make a tremendous difference. Additionally, Lovejoy mentioned that the children will be routing for them and watching their progress via the Web site.

“There is a whole generation in Cambodia growing up without teachers and without education,” says Lovejoy. “These organizations are doing a wonderful job of trying to change that.”

Lovejoy’s hope is that he is able to raise awareness not only for the street children in Cambodia, but for street children in general. “There are problems out there that are not on CNN,” he says.

The Trabant Trek will begin on July 15 and is expected to last four months. To follow the progress of Lovejoy and his crew and to learn more about Cambodia, visit www.trabanttrek.org.