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CEO for Minnesota-based non-profit to sail down entire Mississippi River to raise money for families in need

Erich Mische, CEO of SpareKey, which helps family members pay for medical emergencies, plans to...
Erich Mische, CEO of SpareKey, which helps family members pay for medical emergencies, plans to sail down the Mississippi River to raise money for the organization.(Erich Mische)
Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Minnesota-based non-profit Spare Key helps families across the U.S., including in Iowa, that is facing a financial loss due to a medical crisis. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, CEO Erich Mische said the funding has dropped significantly.

“We estimate, we’re going to lose somewhere between a half million and 3/4 of a million dollars in revenue,” he said.

So Erich decided to take matters into his own hands and came up with several ideas to raise money.

“I thought maybe I could ride a bike down the river, right...seemed to me that was a lot of work...nobody really wants to watch some chubby 57-year-old guy ride a bike down the river,” he said.

He came up with the idea of rafting down the Mississippi River on a 50-year-old pontoon boat. It’s mostly made of a pre-made shed.

He’ll set sail on Aug. 27, leaving from St. Paul, Minnesota.

“It’s gonna go through 10 states, take 2 months, 1700 miles,” he said. “When I get to the end of the trip, Louisiana will be the last of the 10 states along the Mississippi River where we are not currently not registered to serve families."

The name of the mission is ‘Hope on the River.”

“I think people are looking for hope right now, they’re looking for something that gives them the opportunity to focus on something positive and meaningful,” he said.

He also calls it a ‘desperation trip.’

“It is, for all intents and purposes, to use a sports analogy, a ‘Hail Mary.’ So it seemed fitting that we called the raft the ‘S.S. Hail Mary.'

It’s a step outside of his element, as well.

“I am afraid of the dark, I’m scared of animals, I know nothing about rafting in the Mississippi River.”

But it’s not stopping him from helping families in need. His goal is to raise a quarter of a million dollars for SpareKey.

“We can look at the river as something that divides us as a country, but we can look it at as that body of water that brings up together to find hope,” he said.

To learn more about Erich’s mission or to donate, click or tap here.

He plans to be in the Dubuque area about 9 days into his trip.

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