Rubber ducky are you the one?

Annual Duck Race on DI finds new gaggle of partners and beneficiaries in 2019

It’s scientific fact that rubber ducks love hot water, which is why they’re always found in baths. Luckily, the temperatures have been tipping close to 100 in the Charleston area lately, so the warm waters of Smythe Lake will likely provide the perfect fowl-weather conditions for the 2019 Charity Duck Race this weekend.

The 13th Annual Charity Duck Race, hosted by the Rotary Club of Daniel Island, is set to take place on Saturday, June 1 at 5 p.m. The family-friendly event, which will include a “Sounds of Summer” concert by Soul Fish, will host up to 30,000 rubber ducks on the lake at Smythe Park. The ersatz critters will be propelled forward by a firehose en masse towards the finish line.

“Overall this year, we’re seeing much more support from all over the Charleston area,” said Head Duck George Roberts, a Daniel Island Rotarian.

Each duck is adopted by a business or individual for $10 a pop and the first seven ducks to cross the finish line win a cash prize for their adopters. First place gets $10,000, second place nets $5,000, and third through seventh place win $1,000 each.

The money raised from the race goes to several beneficiaries, including Camp Happy Days, Meals on Wheels, and Water Mission.

Trident Technical College will also be one of the organizations receiving money from the duck race. The education institute will use the funds for the Youth Apprenticeship program, which gives high school students hands-on experience in certain fields.

“That program specifically allows our students to be taking actual classes in high school, classes at Trident Technical College, and working part time with our training employers,” said Executive Director of Trident Technical College Foundation Lisa Piccolo. “By the time they complete it, they will leave the program with a high school diploma, a certificate from TTC, and then two years of on the job training, which is paid training.”

The Youth Apprenticeship program has around 150 applicants for the fall semester so far. Some employers participating in it are in the fields of hospitality, machine technology, and pre-nursing.

“We appreciate the support from Daniel Island Rotary,” Piccolo said. “They truly are making a real difference in the lives of our students.”

This program began in 2014 with six employers in the manufacturing field.

“They hired a total of 13 students in industrial mechanics,” Assistant Vice President of Community Partnerships Melissa Stowasser recalled. “It took off and grew very rapidly and now we have over 160 employers who have registered their apprenticeships with the U.S. Department of Labor. They’re willing to hire 16, 17, 18 year-olds and train them on the job.”

According to Stowasser, the employers are across nine industry sectors, and graduates of the program have moved on to other universities or landed great jobs with their employers. “They’re building their careers and we’re building a strong economic viability for our region by producing talent,” she said.

More than 135 students have moved through the program, so far.

“Those are really pretty amazing,” said Roberts. “They’re literally taking kids straight from high school and getting them certificates.”

The duck race has raised approximately $1.5 million over the last 12 years for projects around the world and local organizations.

“This year, our goal is to raise around $211,000,” said Daniel Island Rotary Club member Derek Epperson.

“For us, this is about raising money for a variety of different charities across the Lowcountry,” Epperson added.

“This one event really funds all the different charities that we support,” Roberts claimed. “We’re just able to help more people and do more for the community because of this race.”

As in recent years, additional Rotary clubs will join the fun at the event. East Cooper Breakfast Rotary Club, Rotary Club of North Charleston, Rotary of Mt. Pleasant, Rotary of North Charleston Breakfast, St. Johns Parish Rotary Club, and Rotary Club of Summerville are among those participating.

“We’ve always worked with other local Rotary groups, outside our Daniel Island club, but this year I think we have a couple more than years past,” said Epperson.

“It’s really grown and grown,” Roberts said. “We started out as something small with just one Rotary club and now we’ve got nine clubs coming from all over. North Charleston has two different clubs there that are almost 3,000 ducks, just from those two clubs.”

This year’s duck race will be in conjunction with the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association’s “Sounds of Summer” concert series.

“There will be a jump castle, face painting, and some food truck vendors,” Epperson added. “It really is a fun event for the entire family to come out and participate in.”

Rubber ducks can be adopted online, at certain times outside the Publix on Daniel Island, or the day of the event before 5 p.m. For additional information, visit


Rotary Charity Duck Race
Smythe Lake/Park
Saturday, June 1
5 to 9 p.m.
Race begins at 5 p.m. Winners announced at 6 p.m. “Sounds of Summer” concert to kick off at
6 p.m. Enjoy food trucks, face painters, magicians, jugglers, a balloon station and balloon artists, beginning at 5 p.m.!


~ A temporary street blockage will take place on Saturday, June 1 from 4-9 p.m. for the Duck Race and Sounds of Summer Concert. The impacted area will be Daniel Island Drive from Blakeway Street to Smythe Street. This is the only section of Daniel Island Drive that will be blocked off. Smythe Street will remain open as well as all other surrounding streets. Temporary barriers will be put up to monitor the Blakeway to Smythe Street intersection. City of Charleston police officers will be on site as well.

~ Bring your lawn chair, beverage of choice and your appetite and kick back and enjoy the great sounds of wonderful outdoor music while watching the ducks race to the finish line! Affordable food options, water and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase from several food trucks and food cart vendors at the park.

~ Stay in-the-know! Visit and the DIPOA and Daniel Island Rotary Club Facebook pages for Duck Race and Sounds of Summer Concert information and updates.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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