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You Lucky Duck!
By Jennifer Johnston
Jun 11, 2014 - 9:03:20 AM

Why, yes, those are 30,000 rubber ducks being dropped from the Wando Bridge. And, yes, they signed a waiver.
This perspective illustrates the true power of these yella fellas.


“Where else could you have this much fun and do this much good for $10?”
It’s a rhetorical question, posed by Bill Stevens, President of the Rotary Club of Daniel Island. He’s referring, of course, to the $10 fee to adopt a rubber duckie and watch it (along with 29,999 others) paddle toward the Children’s Park dock at the Club’s annual Charity Duck Race.
But even if it were an inquiry begging an actual response, it would be difficult to answer. For ten beans, you get a chance to win a legit cash prize, a day of awesome family activities at the race festival, and the warm giving spirit of having provided a meal, clean drinking water, or even a polio vaccine to someone in need. That’s a lot of power packed into one Hamilton. Last we checked, it wouldn’t even get a grown-up into a movie.
And, incredibly, the Duck Race just keeps getting better - without hiking the cost to participate. What started in 2007 as a massive dive of synthetic ducks over the side of a bridge to the backdrop of a homegrown island party has turned into one of the Lowcountry’s signature summer events. And though the fundraiser has retained much of what has made it so beloved - the freefall of 30,000 rubber duckies from the Wando Bridge and their race toward the pier at Children's Park, a bolstering of worthy causes, the award of cash prizes, and the accompanying family-friendly shindig - it has also blossomed over time.
Explains Bill Stevens, President of the Rotary Club of Daniel Island, “Each year, we seek to expand and refresh this event.” One of the more conspicuous changes is the addition of a "pre-event" event: a stand-up paddleboard race. Sponsored by Gildan in partnership with Rotary, participants will take off from the dock on their choice of a one- or three-mile course past the Wando Bridge. The race is open to anyone, and one male and one female winner from each course will receive prizes. The fee to enter is just $20, and includes two duck adoptions for the Duck Race. Equipment rental is also available to those needing gear, and that $10 fee gets you another adopted duck.
There's also some new additions to the pool of prizes for the event. As always, the first 35 adopted ducks to reach the Children's Park dock are winners. But this year, the first prize is a brand spankin' new 2014 Toyota Camry, courtesy of Hendrick Toyota. The next 34 ducks to the dock win cash awards ranging from $200 to $2,000, and every duck has the potential to draw a cool million, underwritten at random selection by an insurance firm. But it's not just the ducks procuring the dough anymore; there will be "door prizes" given away as well. Folks will receive a ticket as they enter the festival, and may find themselves $500 richer, or the proud recipients of a gift certificate to a local merchant, if their number is called (and they are present) during the race awards ceremony at 1 pm.
Of course, the whole event is a one-half duck race, one-half jubilee. Younger party people will be happy to see a boost in organized games and activities, beginning at 10 am, put on by the kid whisperers at Teacups & Trucks. Jump castles and face painting will make their return this year as well. And all ages will love the live music beginning at noon, while the Daniel Island Grille serves up cold beverages and hearty festival fare (duck will not be on the menu).
Since its inaugural duck drop, Rotary has raised $750,000 for area charities, and is on pace to hit the $900,000 mark this year. As of May 26, nearly 16,000 ducks had been adopted for this year's race, with over 12,000 of those adoptions from Daniel Island's Rotary. Over time, the event has drawn in the collaboration of six other area Rotary Clubs: Goose Creek, Johns Island, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston Breakfast, St. Andrews (West Ashley), and Summerville.
“The Duck Race started here, and we continue to have responsibility over logistics and planning,” explains Bob Wood, past president of Daniel Island Rotary and current member in charge of public relations and publicity. “We have partnered with the other clubs to help cover fixed costs. For each duck adoption, we take about $4 and they keep $6 for their projects.”
Each individual chapter identifies Lowcountry charities to benefit from the proceeds earned through the duck adoptions. (See sidebar.) A wide range of beneficiaries are reached, but the majority of them fall under the Rotary Club areas of focus: health, food and nutrition, housing, children and families, and literacy. In addition to its Duck Race charities, Daniel Island Rotary has ongoing efforts to help East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO), Water Missions International, and polio eradication.
It’s certainly no secret that our community is both generous and active, so any occasion that combines philanthropy with recreation hits right in our southern sweet spot. In a nod to this notion, Stevens is also known for saying, "The Rotary Charity Duck Race combines having fun and doing good." This year, he could say funner and gooder, but we know his impeccable grammar is second only to his fondness for those dynamic ducks.
For more information, and to adopt ducks or register for the paddleboard race, visit www.charlestonduckrace.com. The paddleboard race runs from 8:00 am to 9:30 pm (registration begins at 7:00 am), and the duck race festivities kick off at 10:00 am with the ducks dropping at 11:30 am sharp.

The Rotary Club of Daniel Island’s Duck Race
Beneficiaries

The following charities were hand-picked by the
DI chapter to benefit from the
2014 Duck Race:
St Benedicts/
St Vincent de Paul
East Cooper Meals on Wheels
Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy
Tri-County Family Ministries
Junior Achievement of Coastal South Carolina
First Tee of Greater Charleston
Blissful Dreams Horse Therapy




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