The Evans family is quoted on their website saying, “You don’t think that this could happen to you, but it does, and there are people there with you the whole entire way and Spare Key makes it possible for you to live your normal life.”
‘Bounce Not Break’
This past year has not been easy for Spare Key, though, with COVID restrictions making it harder to host charity and crowdfunding events. As a result, the organization lost half a million dollars and two thirds of its budget. Still, they refused to cut families off from support, following the mantra of “bounce not break” when times are challenging. Instead, the group decided to get more creative with its marketing campaigns.
This is what prompted executive director, Erich Mische, to start his 1,700-mile journey down the Mississippi River in an attempt to spread awareness about Spare Key. “If we couldn’t bring people to an event, I would bring Spare Key and an event to people,” Mische said.
Sailors, boatsmen, and onlookers at the bank of the Mississippi river would have seen a man captaining a makeshift HomeDepot shed sitting on top of a 50-year-old, rotting pontoon. If the sight of it didn’t scare people away, the captain was happy to welcome them on board. “People can spend a night on here with me, or a weekend,” Mische said. “I will tell you, it’s close quarters, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that. You also have to be comfortable with me being the captain of a raft that has a leaky tube.”
Full of vigor and excitement, Mische began his harrowing journey in St. Paul, Minn., and ended in Baton Rouge, La., passing through 10 states over the course of two months to finally become licensed in all 50 states.
Despite a leaky tube, nearly capsizing three times, and almost sinking in Lake Pepin, Mische was able to complete his journey.
“The challenge for me is that I’m afraid of the dark, I’m scared of animals, and I don’t know the first thing about the Mississippi River,” Mische said.“Every single mile down the river is a learning experience for me. Along the way, I’m meeting a lot of people who are very generous, very supportive, and also very helpful.”
The Spare Key team might be willing to bend over backwards to advocate for these families, but the only thing donors have to do is pick a family on www.HelpMeBounce.org and they can donate directly via credit card online.
“Donors can choose to provide their donations through lump sum, monthly installments, or they can sponsor an area to continuously assist families within that community,” Yonaka said. “But, if someone is reading this and they don’t have enough money to donate, they should know we are always looking for volunteers!” Volunteers can help with crowdfunding and charity events once event season approaches. Spare Key is expecting to have their first post-pandemic Gala event on April 30, 2022.
“This is a good, trustworthy organization that allows families to see 100% of a donation made to their need on www.HelpMeBounce.org for whatever expense or debt they choose and have Spare Key make that payment directly to the servicer," Yonaka added.