Pontoon Trip on Mississippi Raises Money for Charity

"I don't like rivers. I'm doing this for St. Jude's."

Brett Blume
July 10, 2018 - 2:42 pm

(KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Ten days into a float trip down the entire Mississippi River, Bob Sistok and three of his veteran buddies made a stop Tuesday in St. Louis.

Sistok, a Marine turned disabled veteran, said he figures after kicking all 14 of his daily meds the VA had prescribed for him over the years, he could sit at home and suffer seizures, or have them on this trip while raising money for St. Jude's Children Research hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

"I suffer from seizures," Sistok explained. "I just had a bad one (during his St. Louis stop) and they almost called the ambulance."

Despite setbacks including his health problems and a blown pontoon motor in Dubuque that cost $9,200 to fix, he said it's all worth it to raise money for a good cause like St. Jude's.

"It's my favorite charity," he explained. "Just because I know that every penny goes where it's supposed to, and 70 percent of their operating budget is all from donations."

Sistok added that since St. Jude's began operations, cancer survival rates have improved by 80 percent.

Riding a pontoon boat on the shoulders of the Mighty Mississipp during triple-digit July days isn't for everyone -- in fact, it's not a good fit for Sistok.

"I'm afraid of this river -- it scares the hell out of me," he admitted. "I don't like rivers. I'm doing this for St. Jude's."

He hopes to have raised at least $100,000 for the children's research hospital by the time their 1,100-mile journey wraps up in New Orleans.