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CEO of non-profit goes Huck Finn-style down Mississippi for fundraiser



While vacation time is ending for lots of folks in the Midwest, one Minnesota man has just begun a voyage down the Mississippi to save his company. 

Erich Mische, the director of a non-profit firm called Spare Key, is a week into his river trip alone on a pontoon, reaching the Pettibone harbor at La Crosse on Wednesday.

Mische came up with the trip, called “Hope on the River,” as a way to raise money and awareness when regular sources of funding dried up during the pandemic.     

He admits he doesn’t have much experience with boats, and built his craft out of spare parts.

“We found a rotted, and continuing to rot, 50-year-old pontoon deck,” said Mische. “We bought a Home Depot garden shed, and we stripped it down, and we put it on top, and this is my raft.”

Spare Key provides funding for clients who need money for medical emergencies, or other purposes. 

Mische puts in about 20 to 30 miles a day on his houseboat.

He had to get it fixed around Lake Pepin, and it took several hours to get through a dam upriver on Wednesday.

Mische hopes to raise about $250,000 as his journey to Louisiana continues into October and possibly November.   


A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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