Rotary's Race: Salute a decade of ducks, maybe win 10,000 bucks!
Can you believe it? The little squeakers have been at it for ten years! Since their first brave freefall from the I-526 bridge, the Rotary’s racing ducks have waddled miles down the Wando, won piles of cash for their adopters, and raised seven figures in donations for those in need.
Established by the Rotary Club of Daniel Island in 2007, the Annual Rotary Charity Duck Race returns to Daniel Island on Saturday, June 4. This one-of-a-kind event has grown each year and now, as it turns ten, includes seven other Rotary Clubs in the greater Charleston area: Goose Creek, Johns Island, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston Breakfast, North Charleston Lunch, St. Andrew’s (West Ashley), and Summerville.
The Duck Race will once again take place around Children’s Park at the end of River Landing Drive. Fun for the entire family begins at 9 a.m., with music, face painting, jump castles, games, and other activities for children. Food and beverages, including limited alcoholic beverages, will be available for purchase.
But what’s a ten-year anniversary without some special touches thrown in? New to the Duck Race this year is a “Duck Beauty Contest,” sponsored by Black Tie Music Academy. Black Tie’s youth students will decorate rubber ducks for display and prizes. Local sports team mascots Charlie the River Dog, Stingray’s Cool Ray, and the Battery’s Cannonball will also make appearances. And last year’s car show (or, as the Rotarian’s refer to it, the Concours d’Canard), makes an enhanced return. The Coastal Carolina Corvette Club will roll 15 to 20 beauties up onto the lawn, and a few local car enthusiasts will be showing their classics. Anyone interested in bringing their car can contact Bill Cannon at email@example.com.
Veteran duck racers know the traditional way to the winners’ circle (for the newbies, more on this below), but also new this year is a crack at a cash award simply for attending the event. Folks visiting the duck race site on June 4 will each be given a no-purchase-necessary ticket for prize drawings, which will include gift certificates from local merchants and $2,000 in cash from the Rotary Clubs.
But the best way to participate has always been to adopt a duck. Or several ducks. “While we strive to make the race better every year, the prize pool for this year does reflect the ‘ten’ theme,” observes Bill Stevens, Public Relations Chair for Rotary Club of Daniel Island.
For a donation of $10 per duck, adopters are assigned adorable little racers. At 11 a.m. on race day, 30,000 rubber ducks – including those with numbers of adoption - will be dropped into the Wando River from I-526 and race to the finish line at the dock near Children’s Park.
In recognition of this 10th Annual Rotary Charity Duck Race, the first faux fowl across the finish line will win $10,000 for the person who adopted that lucky duck. Those who adopted the next ten ducks (places two through 11) will each win $1,000. “But even if your duck lets you down,” Rotarian Bill Cannon reminds us, “know that you are helping very worthy causes!”
To be sure, the biggest winners are people and organizations served by the proceeds from the duck race. One hundred percent of the funds raised by this event are used to fund Rotary community service programs locally and around the world. Each of the participating Rotary Clubs designates one or more Lowcountry charities and/or Rotary service projects as beneficiaries of the Duck Race. In keeping with Rotary’s mission, these charities and projects are focused on health and wellness, hunger and nutrition, housing and shelter, children and families, literacy and education, and community improvement.
Over the past nine years, the Charity Duck Race has raised more than one million dollars for local beneficiaries and Rotary projects worldwide. That’s big dough from little ducks.
To support the race this year, visit www.charlestonduckrace.com and adopt ducks with a credit card, or keep an eye out for Rotarians offering adoptions at local venues, such as the Daniel Island farmers market and Publix. Either way, supporters must be certain to indicate phone number or e-mail address, since adopters need not be present at the duck race to win.
Participating Rotary Clubs are also welcoming sponsorships beginning at $1,000. Sponsors receive publicity and other sponsor benefits depending on the level of their sponsorship. Those interested in a sponsoring the Duck Race should contact Bill Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bill Thielfoldt at email@example.com.
The cascade of rubber ducks from the top of the bridge is a sight to behold, and the accompanying festival is always a good time. But the heart of the event remains the philanthropic adoption of each cute yellow racer.
As the Rotarians of Daniel Island have been asking us rhetorically for ten years now, “Where else can you have this much fun and do this much good for $10?”