PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (WFLA) – I am asking you to roll with me here. Yes, I did intend to write that pun.
I met a pair of high school sweethearts who have grown into college graduates with a fantastic story.
Jack Labosky, who is 22 years old, graduated from Duke University in May of 2018 and is following his baseball dream. He is a pitcher for the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Madi Hiatt is 23 years old. She is in the process of getting her master’s degree while working at a coffee shop and coaching cross country at the high school level.
The two of them currently live on a school bus in Port Charlotte together. However, the bus is not taking them to school. They flipped it into a home and their new home has a new name, “J&M Express.”
The inside of it, which provides the couple with approximately 23 feet of living space, is an impressive sight. The two of them completed all of the renovations with the help of their family and their friends.
“That is literally our first bus picture,” said Madi as she pointed to a black and white photo pinned to the wall of the bus behind the driver’s seat. The photo is connected to a hand painted outline of the United States. Madi told me she painted it with a toothbrush. If you follow the connecting line, it will transport you to Virginia where the couple bought their bus.
“We came across people online flipping buses into RVs themselves,” said Jack, “and we kind of just took a swing at it and decided to do it.”
Jack actually had to knock the idea out of the park in order to convince Madi to live on a bus with him.
“I was like, ‘Are you joking? I am going to live on a bus?’” Madi told me. She could not hide her suspicions.
“It took a little convincing,” admitted Jack, “but, by the end of the season, she was fully on board.”
The Tampa Bay Rays selected Jack in the 22nd round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He moved to New York to pitch for the Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league team in the Class A Short Season league. The season ended in September. The couple found the bus on Craigslist in October.
“It was a full on yellow school bus, fresh off picking up kids to take them to class,” said Jack. “There were pencils, markers, homework left over. I think there might have been some snacks in the seats.”
They bought the bus for $4,000 on October 30, 2018 and they started renovating it the following day. I had to ask Jack how he knew what to do to transform a school bus into a home.
“I knew some handy things,” he told me, “and then, I just figured it out as I went, a lot of YouTube videos, a lot of calling home to ask what I am doing wrong or what to do next.”
“We spent so many hours and so much money at Lowe’s and Home Depot,” said Madi.
The two of them added their comments and, consequently, showed me that the renovation process was full of triumphs and tribulations, accomplishments to celebrate and mistakes to correct.
“It took a lot of trial and error,” said Jack. “There were times when I got frustrated. I would go home. I was like, ‘I am done with this,’ and it was only 6 o’clock at night but I was done.”
He managed to get it done though. Madi took me on a tour of the J&M Express while Jack was at the field. She pointed to the air conditioner and the heater, the water that flowed in both temperatures, the fully functioning stove, and on and on and on.
The shower situation had us both laughing uncontrollably.
“It is super funny,” Madi told me. “Jack does not fit so, when he is in the shower, he is like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, like literally bent over so we bought him a stool so he sits on it.”
She had to pause for a laugh.
“So,” she continued, “he sits on the stool in the shower and takes a shower!”
“I am 6 feet 3 inches tall,” said Jack, “so I have maxed out the height limit. If you are 6 feet 4 inches tall, consider a bigger bus!”
Those words of wisdom came directly from the man in charge of the renovations. He claims he completed the bulk of them in less than 90 days.
“It would have been functional probably two or three weeks before we actually had it finished,” he said as he sat beside Madi. She got his attention when she started shaking her head. “Maybe not,” Jack said with a laugh.
Madi had different standards for their home and, together, they met them and surpassed them.
“It is everything I need in a small space,” she said. “I do not need anything else. I love it. I would not ask for anything else, the shower maybe but other than that.”
Jack interrupted her, “It is small!”
The shower may be small but it is a small price to pay for the miles this pair can now travel together.
If you would like to continue to track their journey, you can follow them on Instagram at thegreatbusadventure.