Ducks net cash for lucky few: Rotary charity race's 5th annual event raises about $100,000
Mark Frost of Nashville, Tenn., might love his rubber ducky more than Ernie from 'Sesame Street' loves his.
If your rubber ducky won you $15,000, you'd love it, too.
Frost had bought 10 of the approximately 30,000 ducks dumped off the Wando River Bridge on Saturday afternoon for the fifth annual Rotary Charity Duck Race. Individuals and companies donated $10 per duck, and each duck made them more likely to earn a prize.
Rubber met water and the duck armada raced, with some shepherding by 'Rotary Club Navy' boats towing an oil-retention boom, to the dock at the Daniel Island Children's Park. The owners of the first 30 ducks to reach the dock shared $30,000 in prizes, from first place at $15,000 down to $100.
'Golly gee, my ducks must have been swimming,' said Frost, who was asked to donate by Jim Hudson of the Daniel
Island Rotary Club. 'I support many charities, and whenever a loyal and trusted friend like Hudson calls and asks for support I always try to help. I'll give a significant portion back to some charities and use the rest to pay bills.'
Owners of the first 10 ducks also had a chance to win a $1,000,000 prize sponsored by the Student Transportation of America Education Foundation. This year, as in the past four, no one was ducky enough to win the grand prize.
Though exact numbers weren't available Saturday, Tom Richards, the Daniel Island Rotary Club's duck race chairman, estimated this year's event would raise around $100,000. The event has averaged $100,000 each year for the past four, meaning that on this fifth anniversary the club expects to pass the half-million-dollar mark.
Richards, who was equipped with a duck hat and a beak-shaped duck whistle, said he joined the club in the race's first year.
'We started with dropping 10,000 ducks the first year, and that was a real experiment for us and we had a lot of apprehension and liability,' Richards said. 'We asked, ĎAre people going to actually do this, or are we going to end up owning 10,000 rubber ducks?' Well, people turned out and it was great.'
The Summerville, North Charleston and East Cooper clubs joined the Daniel Island Club in putting on the event.
The event revenue is split between charity beneficiaries and the Daniel Island club. The beneficiaries were Angel Flight, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, East Cooper Community Outreach, Gift of Life, Junior Achievement, My Sister's House, Palmetto House, Red Cross Heroes, Summerville Meals on Wheels, Summerville Miracle League, Tricounty Family Ministries, United Methodist Relief and Water Mission International.
Some of the money the Rotary Club retains is donated to Rotary International in support of its campaign to eradicate polio worldwide. The rest goes to the club's in-house charities, including scholarships, food drives and library book programs.
Richards said the club's primary project this year is partnering with the Daniel Island Community Fund to buy an off-road ambulance for the local fire department.
'There are miles and miles of trails on Daniel Island and if someone has a medical emergency out on a trail there's no way to get an ambulance to them,' Richards said.
Bob Wood, the Daniel Island club's president, said the need for such a vehicle was evident at the event. One of the around 200 beneficiaries who had a chance to watch the duck race from the Spirit Line Cruises ship had a falling accident, and the EMS couldn't drive an ambulance up the narrow dock to get her.
On land, attendees got to enjoy music, jump castles, hula-hoop contests, face painting, a balloon artist, duck merchandise and food from several vendors.
'Where else can you have this much fun and do this much good for $10?' said Bill Stevens, the Daniel Island club's director.
Reach Ryan Quinn at 937-5906.