KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- 24 German students on a high school exchange program were stranded in Kansas after the tour operator they paid $2,500 for a trip to Philadelphia filed for bankruptcy and disappeared with their money. FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar reached out to the city of brotherly love for help.
We caught up with the students at the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas where they were taking a tour. The students are part of a month-long exchange program with high schools in Lebo, Waverly and Bucklin Kansas.
"This is like the heart of America, so we are really seeing America," said student Franz Silva-Tarouca.
It's a trip, however, that has experienced a few hiccups. The day their flight arrived in Kansas City, a crime-scene investigation had closed the street where they were supposed to catch a bus to the train station. No need to fear, KCPD came to the rescue with a personal escort.
But then trouble found the students again. They are supposed to spend the last few days of their visit to the United States in Philadelphia, but the $2,500 they gave a German tour operator for the hotel rooms never made it to the hotels.
"I got the email from the tour operator the week before we left to come to the United States," said teacher Susanne Klause, who is leading the group. "The tour operator said he had filed bankruptcy and our money was gone."
With less than a week to go before they head to Philadelphia, the students still had no idea where they would stay or how to pay for the rooms.
Bucklin High School Principal Jason Crawford said he knew it was a situation desperate enough that he needed to call FOX 4 Problem Solvers for help.
Problem Solvers explained the students predicament to the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association where director Ed Grose immediately went into action, asking every hotel in his association for help. It wasn't long before he heard from The Inn at Penn, a four-star Hilton Hotel on the University of Pennsylvania campus. General Manager Greg Stafford offered to put all 24 students up for free for three nights.
"The kids were stranded," said Stafford. "Of course we stepped up."
When FOX 4 Problem Solvers shared the good news with the students, no one was more excited and relieved than teacher Klause.
"That was a big rock falling from my heart," said Klause as she wiped tears from her eyes. "People have treated us so well here in the United States."