Hope on the River In the News

The Waterways Journal

Erich Mische chuckles a little when you ask him how his pontoon boat trip down the Mississippi River is going. “It has been the adventure of a lifetime, not always the adventure I expected, but the adventure of a lifetime,” he said.


Erich Mische isn’t used to being on the water. He has his makeshift boat — a garden shed from Home Depot built on top of a 52-year-old pontoon frame — tied up to the dock for the river ferry just outside of Hickman, Kentucky, next to the Mississippi River. 


Sharing a message of hope: That's why the executive director of the nonprofit Spare Key is drifting down the Mississippi River.

Southeast Missourian

Erich Mische is raising money for Spare Key — a “helping hand” not-for-profit — by floating down the Mississippi River in a 1,700-mile, two-month, 10-state journey from his home in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Current

At the end of 2019, Kentucky welcomed the non-profit, Spare Key, as a registered organization to provide commonwealth families with the financial support they need to pay major bills when faced with critical illnesses or serious injuries. 

93.9 The River

Listen in to the 93.9 podcast while they catch up with Executive Director, Erich Mische, in Cape Girardeau.


Nonprofit leader floats "Hope on the River" down Mississippi River


A Minnesota man traveling the Mississippi River for a good cause made a stop in Cape Girardeau Sunday night, marking about halfway of his 1,700 mile trip from St. Paul to Baton Rouge on a homemade raft, risking it all for a charity called Spare Key.

KY Forward

At the end of 2019, Kentucky welcomed the non-profit Spare Key as a registered organization to provide commonwealth families with the financial support they need to pay major bills when faced with critical illnesses or serious injuries.

Clinton Herald

 The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic forced a landlubber onto the mighty Mississippi in a makeshift raft that takes on water.

WXOW La Crosse

Erich Mische docked his homemade raft at Pettibone Boat Club as he travels down the Mississippi River on a 1,700-mile journey to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


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. 


Hope on the River raft gets repairs, upgrades in Red Wing. Mische expects to spend two months floating from St. Paul to Louisiana.

Twin Cities Live

Erich Mische, the Executive Director of Spare Key is floating down the Mississippi to Louisiana on a boat he built himself! He talked with Steve and Elizabeth about his trip!

Yahoo Finance

Today marks 2 days until Erich Mische, Executive Director of Spare Key, begins his journey down the Mississippi River. He knows that his charity, like that of thousands of others, is facing a dire future because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waterways Journal

With the help and support of some river veterans, the executive director of a Twin Cities nonprofit that helps families facing medical crises hopes to raise money by floating down the length of the Mississippi River beginning August 27.


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. 

Star Tribune

Minnesota nonprofits facing declining revenue look for new ways to boost donations amid 'Zoom fatigue'. Erich Mische hopes his boat will float as he drifts 1,700 miles down the Mississippi River in a bid for money to keep his St. Paul nonprofit from sinking.

Pioneer Press

Spare Key executive director Erich Mische will do whatever it takes to ensure his St. Paul-based nonprofit survives the economic strains of the coronavirus pandemic — even if that means boarding an 8-by-12-foot raft built on a 50-year-old pontoon for a solo two-month, 1,700-mile fundraising journey down the Mississippi River.


Pandemic has canceled fundraising efforts for nonprofit organizations. Business, churches, and schools have all been hit hard by COVID-19. So have nonprofit organizations, so one Twin Cities group has a unique plan to draw attention to their efforts to help families that suffer unexpected medical expenses.


Man to float down Mississippi for his charity. Erich Mische, who heads the Spare Key charity, is preparing to float down the Mississippi in the SS Hail Mary. Photographer Matt Passolt captured Erich's float test.

Weekly Pioneer Press Column

Bigger tows, more current, less gas, more MREs …

October 9, 2020

Lock-and-dammed and taking on water.

October 1, 2020

Respect for the Mighty Tows.

September 24, 2020

Encouraging the Daunted to be Dauntless

September 17, 2020

Big river. Big barges. Big impact. Big hope. 

September 10, 2020

What Could Go Wrong?

September 1, 2020

Tied to the Jonathan Padelford sternwheeler, Spare Key Executive Director Erich Mische embarks on a 1,700-mile, two-month, 10-state journey down the Mississippi River from Harriet Island in St. Paul on a homemade raft christened the “S.S. Hail Mary” on Aug. 27, 2020. Mische will spend nearly two months drifting along the river to raise funds and awareness for Spare Key and its mission to help families in 46 states facing a medical crisis by helping provide funds to pay their bills. (Lori Swanson / Pioneer Press)

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