(FLINT, Mich. – Feb. 10, 2017) Accomplished blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mark L. Braun will play a few numbers during the Tunes & Ties fundraising gala, to be held Feb. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Flint Golf Club.

The event is part of a year-long fundraising campaign that will benefit the YouthQuest After School Initiative and culminate with an especially unique journey – one that involves transporting a 385-pound piano on a tricycle built for three from Flint to Mackinac Island this summer.

“There’s a strong sense of homage to me in this particular project because of my family’s relationship to the city of Flint,” said Braun, who graduated from Southwestern in 1975. “To reflect on the opportunity that my family enjoyed here – it means a lot to be able to help positively impact the people who live here now.”

During the gala, guests will enjoy a 40- to 50-minute performance highlighting the history of the music genre, the history of his nonprofit Mr. B’s Joybox Express, the “Sprint 4 Flint” project and a question-and-answer session.

“We’re very excited to be part of such a unique partnership,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which oversees YouthQuest. “It’s a great opportunity to promote the importance of creativity and out-of-the box thinking to our students.”

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.

“It’s one thing to hear about YouthQuest, it’s a whole other thing to see it in action,” said Braun, who recently visited some of the program’s sites. “You can just see in the demeanor of the kids; they’re engaged, they’re happy, they feel secure. It’s an incredible program, and I’m glad to help support it.”

Braun said he first began playing the piano in his early teens after his family won an organ through a raffle, and subsequently traded in the original prize for a color TV and upright piano.

Since then, he 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.

Tickets to the gala are $100/person. For more information, click here for details or call Brandon Morgan at (810) 600-4072.

About YouthQuest

YouthQuest is a high-quality, research-based afterschool program offering educational and enrichment activities that engage young minds. Available at 15 sites in the city of Flint and Genesee County, YouthQuest serves 2,000 students in grades K-12 each year. The program is administered by the Genesee Area Focus Fund, a supporting organization of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. For more information, visit www.yquest.org.