Lucky Duck, You're the One!

Charity Duck Race returns to Daniel Island
It’s that time of year when birds of a feather flock together. 
And we’re not just talking about the 30,000 rubber ducks that will descend on the pond at Guggenheim Terrace on Daniel Island for the annual Charleston Charity Duck Race on Saturday, May 4. But also the hundreds of yellow-clad Rotarians from clubs all across the region who band together to make it happen in support of local charities.

Front and center again this year is Daniel Island Rotarian and Fundraising Chair Evan Murray, affectionately known among his fellow club members as “Head Duck.”
“Our big focus area this year has been making the event more exciting!” Murray said. “I think, especially for those with little ones, we’re always looking to do something unique and different...but also, if you don’t have little ones, it’s just a fun group of folks to be around!”
Public Relations Chair George Roberts added, “We have fun and games for the kids, a great venue, DJ and music from Charleston Radio Group, and a great example of neighbors helping neighbors, giving back to the community!”
Hosted by the Daniel Island-based club, in partnership with nine other Rotary clubs across the Charleston region, the popular family-friendly event is now in its 18th year.
Since launching in 2007, the race has generated over $2 million for a variety of nonprofits and Rotary projects.
“The best part about it is that every charity that we select is local,” Murray said. “Last year, we had 26, and they ranged from Alzheimer’s research to Lowcountry Orphan Relief to Girls on the Run, a number of big charitable organizations that do different fields of work. I love that we can hit so many different buckets all at once.”
For each event, participating Rotary clubs designate their duck race beneficiaries, which represent a wide selection of nonprofit organizations focused on health and wellness, hunger and nutrition, housing and shelter, children and families, and education and literacy.
For 2024, Murray and his team hope to raise $250,000, with amounts anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 going to each charity.
Among the beneficiaries will be the Shifa Clinic, a free medical facility and outreach hunger prevention program on the Cainhoy peninsula.
“We are honored and grateful to have been chosen as one of the recipients of the Charleston Duck Race,” said Dr. Reshma Khan, Shifa’s director of health services.
“The funds received from this generous contribution will be instrumental in supporting our mission to provide essential health care services to uninsured and income-eligible families, thereby promoting a healthier and more equitable community.”
Another beneficiary, Charleston HALOS, plans to use its race funds to support its kinship share program. HALOS’ mission is to promote safe and nurturing homes for children raised by grandparents, relatives, or friends.
“When relatives take in children, this major life change is unexpected,” said Jed Dews, HALOS executive director. “Given that 90% of caregivers live in poverty, they face significant challenges in meeting the demands of new children in their homes. Funds from the duck race will provide critical goods for kinship families.”
As public relations chair for the race, Roberts has been involved with the event for the past decade and has witnessed a positive momentum in terms of awareness and impact. 
“The changes I have seen are a broadening in support, more businesses supporting via sponsorships, and more funds allowing our club to give more funds to help do more good!” said Roberts, who also served as “Head Duck” for four years. 
It’s also the Rotary Club’s one and only fundraiser.
Murray credits sponsorships for being a big part of their success.
“They make up about 63%, as of last year, of our revenue stream,” he said. “So we’re trying to figure out some new and unique ways that we can provide value for those sponsors. 
“Our newest thing, from last year, was the addition of the tents. If you sponsor at $1,200 or above, you get a tent at race day. We recommend that they provide a game for the kids, and then they can talk about their business to the parents.”
Ducks can be adopted for $10 online until midnight the evening before the race at or in person on the day of the event, up until an hour before race time.
Prize money ranges from $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $1,000 each for third through seventh places. You do not need to be present to win.
It’s been almost five years since former Daniel Island resident Kate Maas took home a second-place prize in the event, but she will forever be grateful. Maas described her duck’s timely victory as a “surprising windfall” that gave her family a precious gift.
“My cat, in dire respiratory distress, was close to heart failure and needed emergency surgery,” she said. “The prize money had come just in time: That winning duck saved Joey and gave me and (my daughter) Jenna some precious extra months with Joey until he finally passed.”
There are many stories like the one shared by Maas, according to Murray, who recalled one of last year’s winners adopted just one duck, and it ended up netting the top prize. The money helped pay for the winner’s wedding, which was set to take place the following month.
“I think the best part, and I didn’t really experience it until the end of the year last year, is calling the person that won, and then calling the beneficiaries and providing them the needed money,” Murray said. “I was expecting handing the checks over to the beneficiaries, and I knew what we were working for, but I wasn’t expecting the person that won to be someone that could use it as well. We love seeing that!”
Murray and his fellow Rotarians know it’s equally important to add in plenty of fun for all involved. This group of wise quackers is all about making a splash.
“With so many people trying to market themselves in so many different facets now, I find that the best way to reach people, especially with something like this, is that humor piece,” Murray said.
One of his favorite comedic moments was when the club participated in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in February to promote the Duck Race.
“They placed us in front of Ducks Unlimited, which I thought was hilarious. Until I realized it was a duck hunting club, and then I realized we were in danger!” he laughed.
Then there was the time an animal advocates group reached out to them with concern for the ducks’ safety. “They thought that we were racing real ducks!” Murray said.
“While our mission is to raise as much money as possible for charity, we can’t forget the fun aspect!” Roberts said. “Just the event concept itself is fun. Who can’t have fun with a duck race? Not sure I have a favorite duck pun, but I do enjoy seeing all the various yellow duck-related outfits, shirts, and shoes. Everyone gets a little quacky at the race.”
The Rotary Club of Daniel Island will be supporting the following nonprofit organizations this year:
  • East Cooper Meals on Wheels
  • Girls on the Run
  • Shifa Clinic
  • The Rotary Club of Daniel Island Scholarship Program


Top sponsors include the Daniel Island Community Fund, The Daniel Island News, Kevin G. Clifford, Credit One Stadium, Nucor Steel Berkeley, the Daniel Island Club, and Frank Abagnale.
Here’s a list of some of the activities and treats planned for this year’s Charleston Charity Duck Race:
  • Duck-Putt (duck-themed putt putt)
  • Pop-A-Duck (beanbag toss at balloons to pop them)
  • Duck Derby (racing duck-themed Hot Wheels)
  • Cornhole
  • Duck Dig (buried duck-themed prizes for little ones)
  • Duck Pond (magnet fishing for ducks in a kiddie pool)
  • Face painting
  • Balloon animals
  • Shaved ice
  • Photo booth
  • Cotton candy


The all-volunteer event is free to attend and will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. To adopt a duck or for more information, visit

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

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


Breaking News Alerts

To sign up for breaking news email alerts, Click on the email address below and put "email alerts" in the subject line:

Comment Here