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‘Joybox Express’ Kicks Off Bike Ride/Swim from Flint to Mackinac Island

Michigan Business Network
August 25, 2017 9:00 AM

officialJBEBadge_sm_0.png‘Sprint4Flint’ Hits the Road, Straits of Mackinac in Support of YouthQuest

Today, internationally renowned musician Mark “Mr. B” Braun and the Joybox Express will depart Flint for Mackinaw City, transporting a 385-pound piano on a tricycle built for three.

From there, they will take the bike to St. Ignace, where it will be loaded onto a small barge, which Mark, world-record holding swimmer Jim Dreyer, and seven other volunteers will tie to their ankles as they swim/tow the instrument to Mackinac Island.

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This unusual journey, dubbed “Sprint4Flint,” is a creative way to raise funding for and spread awareness about YouthQuest’s afterschool program. Specifically, it will support art programming provided through YouthQuest during the 2017-18 school year.

Braun, also known as “Mr. B,” is a Flint native who graduated from Southwestern Classical Academy in 1975. Since then, the boogie-woogie pianist has appeared on numerous National Public Radio broadcasts (i.e., All Things Considered, Mountain Stage, etc.) and won several awards through the Detroit Metro Times and the City of Ann Arbor. Additionally, for some time, he was the youngest living member of the National Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame.

For more information about YouthQuest, which is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, visit www.yquest.org. To learn more about Mr. B’s Joybox Express, visit www.joyboxexpress.com.

They kicked of today's event gathering at Brush Park on First Street, between Saginaw and Harrison Streets, Flint along with Tim Herman, CEO, Flint & Genesee Chamber, Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training, Flint & Genesee Chamber. 9-9:25 a.m.they shared Presentation and Musical Performance, then 9:40-9:50 a.m.Community Bike Parade; Mr. B & Joybox Express depart for Mackinaw City.

*** 11am update: The fundraising campaign – which entails transporting the 385-pound piano from Flint to Mackinac Island using manpower alone – will benefit art programming provided through YouthQuest, an afterschool and summer program that serves 2,000 students in Flint and Genesee County each year.

“Joybox Express supports organizations that engage youth through arts and athletics, and I’m excited to bring that mission back to my hometown of Flint,” said Mark “Mr. B” Braun, Founder and President of Mr. B’s Joybox Express.

Braun and the Joybox Express team departed Flint this morning, with the goal of reaching their first destination – Mackinaw City – within 24 hours. The piano-bike seats three cyclists, one in the front and two in the rear. A team of 50 cyclists, who each raised $500 to participate in the effort, will take turns powering the rear bikes, switching in new riders every 10 miles.

After completing the 240-mile ride, the volunteers will move the piano-bike aboard a 52’ dive boat in St. Ignace. Then, on Aug. 29, Braun and seven other swimmers will don harnesses strapped to the bow of Blue Water, and tow the boat to British Landing on Mackinac Island. They will be led by Jim “The Shark” Dreyer, who holds 19 world records in long-distance swimming.

While on the island, Braun – an internationally renowned blues and jazz pianist – will perform Sept. 2 during the Grand Hotel Labor Day Jazz Weekend.

Braun, who graduated from Southwestern Classical Academy in 1975, has appeared on numerous National Public Radio broadcasts (i.e., All Things Considered, Mountain Stage, etc.) and won several awards through the Detroit Metro Times and the City of Ann Arbor. Additionally, for some time, he was the youngest living member of the National Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame.

“This is an ambitious journey that requires creativity, commitment and passion,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which oversees YouthQuest. “We are grateful to Mr. B’s Joybox Express for using this campaign as a platform to support YouthQuest and inspire our students.”

The Sprint4Flint bike ride and swim are just one part of a year-long fundraising campaign that Joybox Express has led in support of YouthQuest. The nonprofit has also hosted galas and worked with Ann Arbor area schools on various fundraisers. An online art auction supporting the cause ends Sept. 5 and is available here.

According to Hunyady, the funding will help support YouthQuest’s art programming – a core part of the program’s curriculum – as well as ArtQuest 2018. The annual art exhibition, held each spring, will feature more than 2,000 pieces of student-created artwork revolving around the theme of physical fitness.

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