The Big Winners

The winners at the Rotary Club Charity Duck Race. The person with the 35th duck also gets a nice prize.

1st - Paul Gaffney, $10,000

2nd -Samantha Houldson, $2,000

3rd - Diane Potts, $1,500

4th - Vecket Turner, $1,000

5th - Rick Hendrick Toyota, $450

35th - Carol Wood, $1,000

Who would’ve thought it took so much to dunk 25,000 rubber ducks?

But as the organizers of the seventh annual Rotary Club Charity Duck Race stood on the Interstate 526 bridge over the Wando River, a steady wind was blowing upstream. If they didn’t choose their dumping spot just right, the ducks would have blown off-course, which was aimed at the pier on Daniel Island, and presented organizers with a major headache of plucking them all up.

They studied the currents below, threw over a flotation device and talked via radio to volunteers in a boat below.

Finally, they zeroed in on their spot, a hoist from Anchor Sign carefully guided the container over the edge of the bridge, and out poured the duckies.

Downstream, oil booms and a “Rotary Navy” of boats and kayaks on the Wando kept stray ducks from floating away uncaptured.

The first duck arrived at the pier about 40 minutes later and its “adopter,” Paul Gaffney of Cincinnati, Ohio, was the $10,000 winner. Gaffney was not present to hear the news in person.

In all, individuals or sponsors with the top 35 duck finishers won cash prizes of $200 or more. About 19,000 of the 25,000 ducks were “adopted” for $10.

The event is expected to raise more than $100,000, all of which will be donated to local charities by one of the five participating Rotary clubs, including Daniel Island, North Charleston-Breakfast, St. Andrew’s-Charleston, St. Johns Parish and Summerville.

Charities selected are within the realm of hunger and nutrition, housing and shelter, children and families, and health and wellness.

Since the inception of the duck race, the event has raised and donated about $750,000 to charities.

Bill Stevens of Daniel Island Rotary, which started the duck race tradition, says the clubs work to make the event festive and fun for families. Among the activities for kids on Saturday was a water balloon toss and hula hoop contest.

“Where can you have this much fun and do this much good for 10 bucks?” said Stevens.