Jordan Hart knew his friend Bradly D’Souza owned a Tesla when Hart approached him about a cross-country road trip to raise awareness about human trafficking and donations for organizations working to stop the modern-day slavery.
But he had no idea how passionate D’Souza would be about the cause.
Hart didn't know that D’Souza, his parents and his younger brother all had been victims of human trafficking when they moved here from India in 2003.
For 18 months, D’Souza’s parents worked 16-hour days at an Indian restaurant for little or no pay under the threat of being deported if they complained. Bradly and his brother slept on the floor, and the family often was hungry.
“We eventually got out when my mom confronted the perpetrators,” D’Souza said. “Now we’re all doing a lot better. We’re all working hard.”
That hard work includes raising awareness about -- and preventing -- human trafficking. Once Hart understood all that, he said, “I was like, wow, is this divine intervention here?”
Hart, who is 28, and D’Souza, who is 22, figured an attempt to set a new record for the fastest transcontinental drive in an electric car would get lots of attention.
They were right.
They set a new record, driving from the Hotel Portofino in Redondo Beach, California, to the Red Ball Garage in New York City in 51 hours and 47 minutes. Their journey for freedom ended on the Fourth of July, and they managed to beat the previous record of 55 hours in an older, less efficient car than the previous record-holders used.
As people continue to find out about their record-setting effort, Hart and D’Souza continue to raise donations through the website www.freedom5000.org. The Freedom 5000 name comes from the fact that they drove about 5,000 miles in all for the trip, Hart said. They have raised nearly $3,000 so far and plan to donate the money to several nonprofit organizations that work to raise awareness about human trafficking, help survivors and prevent people from being trafficked in the first place.
If you are like me, you are wondering: How in the heck did they do it?
Cross-country road trip tips
The logistics weren’t simple.
For one, D’Souza had just started a new job in Chicago and was spending a lot of time back and forth between there and Cincinnati.
The two friends decided that Hart and his father would drive the Tesla to California and that D’Souza would fly to meet them there. The flight didn’t work out as they had expected, and D’Souza wasn’t very rested when he arrived.
But they each slept about three hours and then set out from Redondo Beach at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time on July 1.
They stopped every two and a half to three hours to charge the car’s battery. Every time they stopped, both of them got out of the car to stretch their legs, use the bathroom and eat.
Each stop lasted about 30 minutes, and Hart and D’Souza said they pushed D’Souza’s car to its limits, often pulling into a charging station with a battery reading that was below zero.
Whoever wasn’t driving had to sleep so he could be rested for the next shift. So neither of them got more than three hours of sleep at a time during the entire trip.
“This was the first time the record had been done with only two drivers,” Hart said. “It was a very lean operation, which was good for the cost.”
The two friends got advice from others who had made the cross-country trip to be strict with sleep and to cut out caffeine 10 days before the trip so that it would be extra effective when they drank it during the drive.
They also were warned that each driver had to be able to trust the other to be safe while one of them slept.
They made the car as lightweight as possible, too, removing some shelving and floor mats. They used solar chargers for their cell phones instead of tapping into the car’s battery. And they never set the air conditioning cooler than 75 degrees, which was a challenge through the desert.
“The best bang for my buck was the $10 hand-held fan I bought just in case,” Hart said. “I used it every day.”
And while the two friends say they’re still a bit worn out from the adventure, they’re already thinking about what they could do next.
“The group of people who do this, they kind of warned us it is a slightly addicting feeling,” D’Souza said. “We’re both kind of itching a little bit for something next, probably different.”
It’s a safe bet these two will find a way to push themselves again for a worthy cause.
You can learn more about the Freedom5000 drive online and look back at the friends’ travels on Instagram and Twitter. Donate by clicking here.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.