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Rubber ducks raise big bucks

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The YMCA of Pulaski County’s first ever Pulaski Duck Race took place on Peak Creek Saturday afternoon in fair weather conditions.

At the stroke of 2 p.m., two front loaders dumped 5,000 rubber ducks into Peak Creek from the Randolph Street bridge. From there they floated to the finish line several hundred feet downstream, where wader wearing volunteers stood by to watch which was first to enter a collection bucket at the race finish. These same volunteers put up fencing in the creek to make sure no ducks escaped to Claytor Lake.

The first duck to make it to the finish and therefor win the race was adopted by Pulaski County native Robin Lynch, who will collect $1,500 as a result of her duck’s good luck.

The duck adopted by Amy Dawson, another Pulaski native, took the second place prize worth $1,000 and the duck belonging to Scott Fuller of Christiansburg took third, garnering him $500. Or it could have, as Dawson and Fuller decided to give their winnings back to the YMCA of Pulaski County.

Of the 5,000 ducks dumped in the creek, 2,733 were “adopted” by individuals who wanted to participate in the duck race. Sponsorships made by local businesses paid for the price of the ducks, the marketing and the prize money, so fees for adopting a duck at $5 a piece, all went to support the programs of the YMCA of Pulaski County.

According to Allison Hunter, Executive Director of the YMCA of Pulaski, the Pulaski Duck Race raised about $12,000 for the center.

“It is one of the most successful fund raisers we’ve ever had,” said Hunter. “We did pretty well on the Lip-sync as well but this definitely topped it.”

According to Hunter, the idea of doing a duck race was initially suggested by Adam Pace, Program Director at YMCA of Pulaski County.

“Adam was with the Boys and Girls club in Martinsville several years before he took this job and they did a duck race every year,” said Hunter. “They are now up to 10,000 ducks that they let loose because it’s become so popular and we’re hoping that will really catch on here in Pulaski County. We will have 5,000 ducks ready again for Peak Creek next year and I want every one adopted.”

Though there will be plenty of ducks at next year’s event, these synthetic sunglass wearing ducks won’t be hanging around Pulaski till that happens.

“The ducks that came in are getting ready to go off on 32 crates as we speak,” said Hunter. “They’re being shipped out for the next race.”

A company called Great American Merchandise and Events (GAME) provided the rubber ducks for this event, just as they do for other nonprofits all over the country. According to their website, GAME has raised over $280,000 for nonprofits since its founding in 1988.

“It definitely turned out to be an awesome venture,” said Hunter. “It was just a great, great community effort.”

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