89.1 WEMU

Mr. B's Joybox Express Hits The Road Friday With The 'Sprint 4 Flint'

Aug 24, 2017

A charitable 240-mile trike ride, swim across the Straits of Mackinac, and a performance at the Grand Hotel. "Ride, Swim, Play, Give." Boogie-Woogie piano legend Mr. B (Mark Braun), and a Joybox Express team of dozens launch the "Sprint 4 Flint" on Friday morning in a fundraising effort to benefit the Youthquest program in the city of Flint.  WEMU will be following the progress all along the way! 


Mark Braun, known professionally as Mr. B, has put together a cast of characters that will endeavor feats of athleticism and great music. It's all in the name of charity.  All proceeds generated in the Joybox Express "Sprint 4 Flint"  will benefit Youthquest.  It is an afterschool, enrichment program for underserved K-12 students in the Genessee County community.

Flint is still dealing with lead-tainted water and continues to face economic hardship. As such, what was once a city with a multitude of music and athletic programs, now struggles to serve those who wish to participate in such programs.  Flint is where Mark grew up, long before he became Mr. B.  Braun says many of the opportunities he had no longer exist in his hometown.  That's why he chose to "Sprint 4 Flint" in the latest Joybox Express charitable ride. 

Mr. B and his team will pedal a customized tricycle 240-miles in 24 hours.  The trike will carry an upright piano, drums, a guitar, an amp and an assortment of other equipment.  In total, it will weigh well over 600 pounds.  That's why there are three seats and three sets of pedals.  It will take a lot of people-power to make the trip to northern Michigan. 

They'll leave from Flint on Friday, August, 25th around between 10-10:30am.  24 hours later, they'll pull into Mackinaw City.  The team will then rest until the following Tuesday.

On August 29th. at 6:30am, they'll load the trike, all equipment and a team of swimmers on a more than 40-foot barge in St. Ignace.  From there, they will take shifts, tethered to the barge, and swim the watercraft and all it holds, across the Straits of Mackinac to Mackinac Island.  It could take three hours.  It could take 10 hours. Wind and currents will determine the arrival time. 

Once on the island, the team will take a rest for a few days.  Mr. B and the band will then provide a music performance Saturday, September 2nd as part of the Grand Hotel's annual  Labor Day Jazz Festival

89.1 WEMU will keep you up to date on the "Sprint 4 Flint, " all along the way. 

On Friday, August 25th, Join 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry for All Things Considered, 4-6pm.  She'll have a live conversation with Mr. B from the road. 

On Tuesday, August 29th, 89.1 WEMU's Patrick Campion will report live from St. Ignace as Mr. B and the Joybox Express team load up the barge and prepare to swim the boat to Mackinac Island!  He'll join WEMU News Director and Morning Edition host David Fair with a pre-swim report and live interviews from the barge, during the swim.  He'll also bring you a wrap-up at the end of the day with a live report during All Things Considered. 

On Labor Day, Monday, September 4th, Mr. B will, once again, join David Fair during WEMU's Morning Edition to provide a first-hand account of the Joybox Express "Sprint 4 Flint," in its entirety. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu