"Advocates is a nonprofit that helps children in Bartow County," she said. "They serve over 2,500 children a year, not just through the shelter but through all their other programs. So it takes a lot of help to make all those programs work and for it to be beneficial for the children. ... I've supported [Advocates] through attendance for a lot of years, but [volunteering with this event] was just a way that I could help more. [At the Duck Derby] I enjoy seeing all of the community come out to show their support for Advocates and ... the excitement of waiting for the ducks to be released and float down the river and to find out whose duck crossed the finish line first."
Since about 55 percent of Advocates' annual $1.4 million budget currently is raised by the local community, the Duck Derby's success is integral to its operations.
"[The public's response] has been phenomenal -- some years better than other years of course, based on the economic climate and the emotional climate," said Advocates Executive Director Patty Eagar, adding her nonprofit's fundraising goal is to sell 30,000 ducks. "Right now it's really tough because there's so many other places for people to spend their philanthropic dollar. Just in the last week it's been like, 'Oh my goodness, where did everybody go?' But we're confident that the people who care about kids will continue to care about the kids we serve. ... Every penny that we raise in Duck Derby, every dollar for any duck stays right here.
"We're not part of a national organization that we have to pay dues to or pay a percentage to, nor do we have a national organization that supports us. We're on our own, and we're serving 2,500 kids a year and that's not even counting the ones that hear about us and know that we're here in case [they] need [us]. But [it is counting] the kids we have touched through one of our programs or through one of our presentations. So that's a lot of kids -- from brand new babies, the day that they're born we're helping their moms with some resources, and right on through Rainbows and Safe Place and Flowering Branch Children's Shelter [and] Children's Advocacy Center. There's so many ways we are impacting kids and giving them hope."
On Saturday, more than one month of fundraising will culminate with a maximum of 30,000 rubber ducks racing for prizes at the Riverside Day Use Areaon the Etowah River in Cartersville. While supplies last, ducks can be obtained for $5 each at area businesses, online at www.AdvoChild.org and during the Duck Derby festivities, which starts at 10 a.m. Ducks also can be adopted at Duck Central, 107 W. Main St. in Cartersville.
The 2:30 p.m. race will feature various prizes for duck adopters, including a 2011 Honda Fit courtesy of Honda Carland North for the owner of the fastest duck. Along with adopting a duck and attending Saturday's race, there are two other Duck Derby events that the public can partake in. They include the free Concert on the Lawn Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Riverside Day Use Area that will feature Eastern Seaboard; and a 5K Duck Dash and Fun Run on Saturday, 8 a.m., at Cartersville Primary School. Duck Derby activities, which also will include music, food and games, on Saturday will occur from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"There are so many other needs in the community right now this week that are on people's minds -- all the victims from the storms -- but the kids' needs continue," Eagar said. "Once Duck Derby is over, it's over. So we really hope that people will [contribute in some way]. If they always used to buy a Quack Pack, they'll [now] just buy one duck. If everybody in the county bought one duck, we'd far surpass our goal."
For more information on Duck Derby related events, individuals need to call Advocates at 770-387-1143 or visit its website, www.advochild.org.