EUGENE, Ore. — Thousands of yellow rubber ducks rode the currents of the Willamette River on Saturday for a good cause. Organizers say the Great Rotary Duck Race‘s fight against child abuse had another great year.
Organizers say the community stepped up in the battle, helping to raise more than $340,000 for the cause. They say it’s the fourth largest sales in the event’s history and a great way to wrap up a year’s worth of work.
Race coordinators say conditions were just right this year.
“From a logistics standpoint, there weren’t too many glitches this year. Sometimes we have difficulty getting the boom set up, but with the river flow that went pretty good,” said Paul Spain, Ducks Logistical Coordinator.
Things just seemed to fall into place.
“Everything just really came together this year, it usually takes us hours upon hours and it just seemed like everything flowed really well,” said Dale Hartley, United Rotary Club Board President.
On Saturday, 68,102 little rubber duckies bobbed their way down a chilly and fast flowing Willamette River to the finish line.
“68,000 ducks was all of this hard work; it’s a celebration, it’s a time where we all come together,” said Aimee Walsh, Direction Service Associate Executive Director. “This was the first year I got to see the ducks released from the bridge. Usually I’m down in a booth, but this year I got to watch it happen and it was actually very tearful for me.
Walsh works for Direction Service, one of the six non-profits benefiting from this year’s race. The money it gets will cover a bit more than the cost of one of Direction Service’s full-time family service coordinators who work with about 180 children and their families each year.
“The most satisfying thing is that we help agencies that work directly in a very difficult arena of child abuse prevention and treatment and so to know that the dollars we raise goes back to those community agencies that are at the front lines of that. That’s what makes the biggest difference for me,” Hartley said.
Organizers say there’s little time to breathe before preparations begin on next year. After a banquet in November, the whole process starts again with agency selection.